Vaccines Highly Effective against Indian Variant According to New Study
A new study by Public Health England has found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant of Covid-19, after two doses. The B.1.617.2 or Indian variant has been on the rise in the UK over the past number of weeks. Recent figures from Public Health England confirmed over 3,400 cases of the variant in the UK with confirmed cases having increased by 160% over the course of one week.
The EU had been expected to issue an updated list of countries allowed free access to the bloc last week to include the UK. The publication of the updated list has now been delayed with a revised edition expected in two weeks. It is believed the delay is due to the rise in cases of the Indian variant in the UK.
A number of EU member states have already updated their individual travel policies regarding travel from the UK. The Spanish Government has announced its plan to lift travel restrictions for UK travellers from Monday while Portugal lifted all restrictions on UK travellers last week.
The Study, which was completed between April 5th and May 16th, shows the Pfizer-BioNTech to be 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant 2 weeks after the second dose, compared to 93% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 or Kent variant which is dominant in the UK. The Study also showed 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant compared to 66% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant.
A statement from Public Health England said, ‘Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant is similar after 2 doses compared to the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant dominant in the UK, and we expect to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalisation and death.’
Commenting on the findings of the study, UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said, ‘This new evidence is groundbreaking – and proves just how valuable our COVID-19 vaccination programme is in protecting the people we love. We can now be confident that over 20 million people – more than 1 in 3 – have significant protection against this new variant, and that number is growing by the hundreds of thousands every single day as more and more people get that vital second dose.’
Separate Public Health England analysis indicates that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has so far prevented 13,000 deaths and around 39,100 hospitalisations in older people in England, up to 9th of May.