Coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc have been shown to work against a variant first identified in India, according to a study by Public Health England.
Two doses of the Covid-19 vaccines were “highly effective” against the B.1.617.2 strain first detected in India, the agency said in a statement. There was minimal difference with how the inoculations work on a variant detected in Kent, it said.
“We expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospitalization and death,” said Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at PHE. “So it is vital to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”
The results are likely to boost the U.K. government’s plan to end its lockdown on June 21 even as cases of the variant have been rising rapidly.
The study, conducted from April 5 to May 16, found that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot was 88% effective against the B.1.617.2 variant two weeks after the second dose. Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective.
The difference may be explained by the fact that the rollout of second doses of AstraZeneca came later than for the Pfizer vaccine, Public Health England said. There’s also data showing the AstraZeneca inoculation takes longer to reach maximum effectiveness, according to the agency.