A dose of AstraZeneca vaccine is prepared at COVID-19 vaccination centre in the Odeon Luxe Cinema in Maidstone, Britain February 10, 2021 Photograph:( Reuters )
Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (also known as Covishield) provided 60 per cent protection against the B.1.617.2 variant while offering 66 per cent protection against the B.1.1.7 variant
Two doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the coronavirus variant first found in India, English health officials said on Saturday. The officials said that the fast-spreading variant officially called B.1.617.2 can be controlled by fast-tracking second doses of vaccines.
Britain’s health minister referred to the data as groundbreaking and said he was extremely hopeful that the government would be able to lift more COVID-19 restrictions over the next month.
The study, undertaken by Public Health England showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed 88 per cent efficacy two weeks after the second dose against symptomatic disease from the variant first found in India. The same vaccine was 93 per cent effective agains the B.1.1.7 variant first found in Kent, United Kingdom - the country’s dominant strain.
Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (also known as Covishield) provided 60 per cent protection against the B.1.617.2 variant while offering 66 per cent protection against the B.1.1.7 variant.
"I'm increasingly confident that we're on track for the roadmap, because this data shows that the vaccine, after two doses, works just as effectively (against the variant)," Health Secretary Matt Hancock was cited as saying by Reuters.
Public Health England also said that the first dose of vaccines were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2 after three weeks, which is much lower than 50 per cent protection a single dose offers against B.1.1.7.
Matt Hancock added that this sheds light on how “vital” it is to get both the doses of vaccines.
Starting June 21, the United Kingdom will begin lifting more Covid-related restrictions. The country has Europe’s fastest vaccination programme but faces a new challenge in the face of fresh variants.
On Friday, the head of Germany’s public health institute said that COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the B.1.617.2 variant.