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23rd May 2021

Study finds Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines effective against Indian variant

Charlie Herbert

“Get your second dose.”

A study has found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are highly effective against the so-called Indian variant of Covid after two doses.

Both vaccines were only 33% effective against the variant three weeks after the first dose, compared to 50% effectiveness against the dominant Kent variant that gripped the country over Christmas. However, crucially the study found that immunity against the Indian variant was boosted up to similar levels as that given against the Kent variant once the second dose of vaccine was administered.

Public Health England (PHE), which ran the study, said the vaccines are likely to be even more effective at preventing hospital admission and deaths.

As a result of the findings, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he was “increasingly confident” the government was on track for the final stage of easing lockdown restrictions on 21 June.

The BBC reports that the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 88% effective at stopping symptomatic disease from the Indian variant, compared to 93% effectiveness against the Kent variant. The AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective against the Indian variant, compared to 66% effective against the Kent variant.

PHE said the difference in effectiveness between the vaccines after two doses might be explained by the fact that rollout of second doses of AstraZeneca was later than for the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved first.

Other data shows it takes longer to reach maximum effectiveness with the AstraZeneca vaccine, PHE said

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, told the Andrew Marr Show that the study was “very good news,” and that the study was the “first real-world evidence of vaccine effectiveness.’

Harries added: “The straightforward message is ‘get your second dose.'”

The study involved 12,675 cases being looked at, and took place between 5 April and 16. 1,054 of these cases were of the Indian variant.