The COVID-19 vaccination programme depends on many groups, people and organisations, from the scientists who developed the vaccines via to the volunteers who’ve signed as much as assist the programme and the NHS employees on the entrance line.
The success of the programme has been crucial for the nation’s well being safety. The UKHSA has labored carefully with a variety of companions who’ve examined, authorised, procured, monitored, researched, and delivered vaccines. We all know the vaccines save lives, and alongside the NHS, DHSC, BEIS, MHRA and lots of others, our completely different roles will proceed to assist the trouble to interrupt the hyperlink between an infection and extreme outcomes.
Because the UK marks the primary anniversary of the first-ever COVID-19 vaccine given within the UK, this weblog appears at UKHSA’s function within the vaccine’s improvement, distribution and the impression of our real-world knowledge.
Earlier than the primary dose of a COVID vaccine was given within the UK, our extremely specialised services and researchers performed an element within the international scientific effort to construct a rigorous understanding of COVID vaccines’ security and effectiveness.
This work has advanced additional, with latest funding in our services at Porton Down to assist us assess the effectiveness of current and new vaccines in opposition to variants of concern (VoCs). In mild of the emergence of the Omicron variant, our expert and skilled analysis scientists at the moment are working in our laboratories with reside virus to construct an understanding of whether or not Omicron can evade our present vaccines and people in improvement. A key a part of this work is fast PCR testing and sequencing of suspected Omicron-positive medical samples and isolation of virus to assist analysis of efficiency of in-use Lateral Move Devises in opposition to the Omicron VoC and different genotyping and sequencing evaluation throughout UKHSA and NHS laboratories.
Supplying and distributing
On 3 December 2020, the primary provides of the COVID-19 vaccine started to make their method to the UK. UKHSA (then PHE) multidisciplinary groups began to work alongside companions to distribute vaccines throughout the nation, a course of that continues right this moment.
The logistics of this operation was months within the planning. Groups assessed the UK’s infrastructure to make sure that vaccines might be safely saved and delivered and big freezers and warehouses have been ready to accommodate completely different vaccines. The vaccines themselves are only one element within the strategy of getting a jab. The UKHSA additionally managed the ordering and distribution of the needles, diluent wanted for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, produced affected person info leaflets, and affected person report playing cards.
A 7-day-a-week service supplied by a UKHSA multidisciplinary staff helps the COVID-19 vaccination programme to maneuver ahead, guaranteeing that the provision and distribution of vaccines meet the calls for of the evolving booster and school-aged programmes.
Actual world knowledge
Guaranteeing vaccines are distributed accurately is one a part of the puzzle, however with any vaccine programme, security and effectiveness is essential to the large image. As quickly as well being professionals started administering on 8 December, UKHSA specialists (then PHE) started gathering important real-world knowledge. This knowledge has underpinned vaccination recommendation for well being professionals , supplied important reassurance to the general public, and demonstrated actual world insights into vaccine security, efficacy and negative effects.
We revealed the UK’s first real-world knowledge on the effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech in February 2021. It confirmed the vaccine was offering excessive ranges of safety in opposition to symptomatic COVID-19 illness, instilling important reassurance within the programme. The outcomes confirmed one dose of the vaccine was 57 per cent efficient for these aged over 80, and a second dose doubtlessly greater than 85 per cent efficient.
As well as, our SIREN research of over 40,000 healthcare staff who have been among the many first to obtain the vaccine confirmed promising outcomes when it was additionally revealed in February 2021. Preliminary outcomes of the research confirmed one dose of the vaccine diminished the danger of catching COVID-19 an infection by greater than 70 per cent for these aged underneath 65, rising to 85 per cent after a second dose. This was among the many first proof suggesting the vaccine could also be serving to to interrupt transmission of the virus, in addition to defending in opposition to illness.
Within the months that adopted, we revealed real-world knowledge on the AstraZeneca vaccine after which knowledge on the vaccine’s effectiveness in opposition to the Delta variant – the primary knowledge of its type – which confirmed that though safety in opposition to an infection was decrease than with Alpha, the vaccines have been nonetheless extremely efficient in opposition to extreme illness. We now have additionally revealed knowledge on waning immunity – crucial evaluation that knowledgeable the rollout of the booster programme.
Extra just lately, UKHSA’s evaluation of over 355,000 UK births between January and August has supplied reassuring proof concerning the vaccine’s security in being pregnant, supporting worldwide findings that vaccinated pregnant girls expertise good outcomes at start.
The UKHSA gathers an enormous vary of knowledge and data to assist form the vaccine rollout and inform UK technique as we react to a altering image.
Our surveillance continues to supply much-needed insights that present proof of and confidence within the one essential reality concerning the UK’s vaccination programme: vaccines work.