Professor part of team given HDRUK Impact of the Year award for COVID vaccine study
A COVID vaccine study co-authored by Professor Colin Simpson, showing associated reductions in hospitalisations, was awarded the Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) Impact of the Year award in June.
The study, led by Edinburgh University and published in the Lancet earlier this year, showed the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines reduced the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 by up to 91 per cent and 88 per cent, respectively, by the fourth week after receiving the initial dose. For those aged 80 years and over, the combined results for the vaccinations were linked to an 83 per cent reduction in hospitalisation risk in the fourth week.
HDR UK described the paper as an “innovative and hugely collaborative approach which has helped pave the way for citizens and society to escape the COVID-19 pandemic – with demonstrable impact around the world.”
Professor Simpson says the work, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), highlighted the need in the UK during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to speed up the roll-out of first vaccine doses, with a longer wait to second vaccine dose, and achieve high population coverage. This high population coverage policy led to substantial reductions in hospitalisations and deaths amongst high risk groups.
This high population coverage policy led to substantial reductions in hospitalisations and deaths amongst high risk groups.
This award was open to pieces of work that contributed to HDR UK’s aim of uniting UK health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives. HDR UK further described the study as demonstrating “commitment to transparency, use of a Trusted Research Environment, patient/public involvement in the design and conduct of the study, and use of a proactive media approach to disseminating the results.”
Professor Simpson has since been involved in further HRC funded COVID and vaccine related studies.
Most recently, he was senior author in a paper published in Lancet Western Pacific outlining scenarios around border openings and vaccination rates. The paper showed age-related optimisation and simulation results that can be used to design optimal vaccine programmes; including, firstly, achievement of herd immunity and secondly, if borders are open and cases of COVID-19 are introduced to the NZ community, the minimisation of COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths
Professor Simpson says these findings can support policy makers in New Zealand (including the Ministry of Health) to inform their vaccination programme and is generalisable to other countries with closed borders and elimination strategies to ensure optimal vaccination programmes.
He was also lead author in another study published in Nature Medicine in June showing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine used in New Zealand is not associated with bleeding and clotting events.