A new study published shows that two shots of a Covid vaccine work almost as well against the Indian variant as they do against the dominant UK strain of the virus.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the data groundbreaking and expressed hope stage 4 of England’s Covid roadmap could proceed without hitch on June 21.
According to figures from Public Health England, 22,071,497 people in the UK had been fully vaccinated against the virus on May 21.
Data showed that the UK is delivering a seven-day average of 337,000 second doses, many millions more Britons are on track to receive dose number two by June 21, when more Covid restrictions will be lifted.
The PHE research found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 Indian, or “double mutant”, variant two weeks after the second dose.
That compared with 93 percent effectiveness against the B.1.1.7, or Kent strain, which is Britain’s dominant Covid variant.
Two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine were 60 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant compared with 66 per cent effectiveness against the Kent variant, PHE said.
Britain has rushed out Europe’s fastest vaccination program but it has faced a new hurdle from the spread of the variant first found in India.
Data published on Saturday showed new coronavirus cases reported in Britain rose by 10.5 percent in the seven days to May 22, although they were still a fraction of levels seen earlier this year.
The Indian variant itself represents a fraction of these cases, but data from genome sequencers the Wellcome Sanger Institute showed it is accelerating exponentially in the UK.