Two doses of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccines are almost as effective against the Indian variant as they are against the UK variant, England’s health officials have said.
But the protection from the first doses against the Indian variant has been “notably lower” than they are against the UK variant, they said.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the study, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, provided “groundbreaking” evidence to prove how valuable the COVID-19 vaccination programme is.
The study analysed data from the six weeks between April 5 and May 16 to cover the period since the variant emerged in England. It included all the symptomatic cases in England from the period. Among those cases, 1,054 people from all age groups and several ethnic groups were reported to have the Indian variant.
The study shows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose, compared to 93 percent effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in Kent, England.
It also said that two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant compared to 66 percent effectiveness against the Kent variant.
PHE noted that the difference in effectiveness between the vaccines may be because the second doses of the AstraZeneca shot were rolled out later than those of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and that it takes longer for the AstraZeneca to reach maximum effectiveness.
Similar results were seen in both vaccines regarding the effectiveness of the first doses, at around 33 percent against the Indian variant, compared to around 50 percent effectiveness against the Kent variant.
The study said they couldn’t estimate the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine because the number of recipients was too small.
Hancock said ministers can now be confident the over 20 million people who have received two doses of vaccines “have significant protection against this new variant.”
“It’s clear how important the second dose is to secure the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 and its variants—and I urge everyone to book in their jab when offered,” he said in a statement.
Under the government’s plans, a lifting of remaining lockdown restrictions is due to take place from June 21.
Britain has rushed out Europe’s fastest vaccination programme so far but it has faced a new challenge from the spread of the variant first found in India.
Data published on Saturday showed new COVID-19 cases reported in Britain rose by 10.5 percent in the seven days to May 22 although it remained a fraction of levels seen earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month ordered an acceleration of remaining second doses to the over-50s and people who are clinically vulnerable.
Concern about rising Indian variant cases in Britain prompted Germany to say on Friday that anyone entering the country from the United Kingdom would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
Also on Friday, the head of Germany’s public health institute said existing COVID-19 vaccines might be less effective against the B.1.617.2 variant.
Reuters contributed to this report.