A young beneficiary receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Bhopal.(PTI)
A young beneficiary receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Bhopal.(PTI)

Two Covid vaccine doses needed for strong protection against B.1.617.2 variant found in India: Report

  • Earlier on Thursday, Public Health England announced that two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provide around 85-90 per cent protection against symptomatic Covid-19.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 22, 2021 04:48 PM IST

Both doses of two-dose regimen Covid-19 vaccines are needed to provide strong protection against symptomatic infection from the virus variant first identified in India, according to a Financial Times report based on UK government research. The B.1.617.2 variant has raised severe concern around the world as health experts are increasingly wary about the vaccine efficacy against the new variant which has now become the second most dominant variant in Britain after B.1.1.7 strain. The United Kingdom has detected 3,424 cases of B.1.617.2 variant across the country as of May 12.

Public Health England (PHE) data on vaccine efficacy, presented on Friday to the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), suggested that two vaccine doses provide 81 per cent protection against the B.1.617.2 variant, reported FT, quoting two officials briefed on the preliminary data. One dose of the Covid-19 vaccine offered 33 per cent protection against the virus variant, per FT.

The data from the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines showed that while a single Covid shot offered 51 per cent protection against the B.1.1.7 variant, both doses provided 87 per cent protection. This means a single dose of Covid vaccine provides 35 per cent less protection against B.1.617.2 as compared with the variant first detected in the UK.

Also Read | Why the gap between Covaxin doses has not been extended, Centre explains

Earlier on Thursday, PHE, citing new analysis, announced that two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provide around 85-90 per cent protection against symptomatic disease. British health secretary Matt Hancock said that the new data shows the vaccine saves lives and protects people from ending up in hospital with Covid-19. However, the UK health agency didn’t provide data on vaccine efficacy against B.1.617.2 variant.

“Public Health England scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines against the B.1.617.2 variant of Sars-Cov-2. We will be publishing the results of this evaluation in due course,” PHE was quoted by FT as saying.

Meanwhile, a virologist has warned that the spread of new variants, including the one discovered in India, is concerning because of the possibility that it could escape vaccine immunity. Speaking at BBC Breakfast, Dr Chris Smith said that the variants of concern could increase the number of cases as a significant proportion of the UK population hasn’t been fully vaccinated yet.

“The more variation there is, the more chances we’re going to see the vaccines stop working,” he added.

The government of India recently increased the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine, a version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed by Serum Institute of India (SII), to 12-16 weeks. “Based on the available real-life evidences, particularly from UK, the Covid-19 Working agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine," the health ministry said in a statement.

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