Two effective COVID shots against the Indian variant
A double dose of COVID-19 vaccine is almost as effective against the rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus first identified in India as it is against the dominant British strain, English health officials said on Saturday.
Britain’s Minister of Health said the data was groundbreaking and he increasingly hoped the government would be able to lift more COVID restrictions next month.
A study by Public Health England found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic B.1.617.2 variant disease two weeks after the second dose.
This compared to 93% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 “Kent” strain which is Britain’s dominant COVID variant.
Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic Indian variant disease compared with 66% effectiveness against Kent variant, PHE said.
“I am more and more convinced that we are on the right track for the roadmap, because these data show that the vaccine, after two doses, works just as effectively (against the Indian variant),” said the secretary to Health, Matt Hancock, to broadcasters.
According to government plans, a lifting of the remaining coronavirus restrictions is expected to take place from June 21.
Britain has launched Europe’s fastest vaccination program so far, but faced a new challenge related to the spread of the variant first found in India.
Data released on Saturday showed that new COVID cases reported in Britain rose 10.5% in the seven days to May 22, although they are only a fraction of the levels seen earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month ordered an acceleration of the remaining second doses for people over 50 and clinically vulnerable people.
PHE stated that a first dose of both vaccines was 33% effective against symptomatic disease of B.1.617.2 after three weeks, lower than its 50% effectiveness against B.1.1.7.
Hancock said it showed getting the two doses of the vaccine “absolutely vital.”
Concern over the increase in Britain’s cases of the variant first found in India prompted Germany to say on Friday that anyone entering the country from the UK should be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
Also on Friday, the head of the German public health institute said existing COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against variant B.1.617.2.
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