Britain has suffered one of the worst death tolls globally from the pandemic but has also had one of the fastest vaccine rollouts, generating a lot of data about the use of the shots in real world settings.
That compares to 90% estimated effectiveness against symptomatic disease for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“This new data highlights the incredible impact that both doses of the vaccine can have, with a second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine providing up to 90% protection,” vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said.
PHE said the analysis was the first of its kind on the effectiveness of two doses of AstraZeneca in a real-world setting but was not yet published in a journal, adding more data would boost its confidence in the finding.
Britain has been rolling out the shots manufactured by Pfizer and AstraZeneca since December and January respectively, and in April also started rolling out Moderna’s vaccine.
PHE said there was a “small reduction in vaccine effectiveness” from 10 weeks after the first dose of the Pfizer shot before the second shot is given.
Britain extended the gap between doses to 12 weeks, though Pfizer warned there was a lack of evidence of its efficacy outside the three-week gap used in trials.
Last week, Britain cut the gap between doses down to 8 weeks for the over 50s, aiming to give maximum protection to more vulnerable people in light of concern about the B.1.617.2 variant first found in India.