For the first time, a British study used Pfizer’s COVID-19 injections for two variants first discovered in India:
British health officials said on Saturday that the double-dose COVID-19 vaccine is almost as effective against the fast-spreading coronavirus mutation first discovered in India as it is against the main strain of the British virus.
The British Minister of Health said that the data is groundbreaking, and he increasingly hopes that the government will remove more COVID-19 restrictions next month.
A study by Public Health England found that two weeks after the second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has an effective rate of 88% against symptomatic diseases of the B.1.617.2 variant.
In contrast, the effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 “Kent” strain (the main COVID-19 variant in the UK) is 93%.
PHE said that two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are 60% effective against the first-discovered variant in India for symptomatic diseases, while the Kent variant is 66% effective.
Health Minister Matt Hancock told the broadcaster: “I am increasingly confident that we can follow the roadmap because these data show that two doses of vaccine (compared to the Indian vaccine) are equally effective. “
According to the plan of the British government, the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be lifted from June 21.
So far, the UK has driven out the fastest vaccination program in Europe, but it faces new challenges due to the spread of the virus, which was first discovered in India.
Data released on Saturday showed that in the seven days to May 22, the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases in the UK increased by 10.5%, although it was still small compared to the level earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered this month to speed up the remaining second dose of treatment for people in their 50s and clinically vulnerable.
PHE said that the first dose of the two vaccines is 33% effective for symptomatic diseases of B.1.617.2 after three weeks, which is lower than the 50% effectiveness for B.1.1.7.
Hancock said this shows that it is “absolutely vital” to get two doses of vaccine at the same time.
Fearing that this variant, first discovered in the UK, has increased in the UK, Germany said on Friday that anyone entering the country from the UK must be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
Also on Friday, the director of the German Institute of Public Health stated that the current COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective against the B.1.617.2 variant.
Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Christina Fincher