Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective against strain found in India

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines have been found to be highly effective against the coronavirus variant that was first identified in India.

The Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective and the AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective against the so-called ‘Indian strain’ – B1617.2 – after the second dose.

Both the vaccines were more effective against the so-called UK strain – B.1.1.7 – with Pfizer being 93% effective while the AstraZeneca jab was 66% effective over the same period.

However, they were only 33%effective three weeks after the first dose.

The study took place between April 5 and May 16, found that both the vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from the B1617.2 strain three weeks after the first dose, compared with about 50% against the B.1.1.7 strain.

Some 12,675 genome-sequenced cases were included in the analysis, but only 1,054 were of the variant identified in India. The study included data for all age groups from April 5 to cover the period since the strain emerged.

This study by the Public Health England (PHE) said at least 2,889 cases of the B1617.2 strain recorded in England from February 1 this year to May 18.

Of those, 104 cases resulted in a visit to a hospital emergency department, 31 required overnight hospital admission and six resulted in a death.

A separate analysis by PHE indicates that the vaccination programme has so far prevented 13,000 deaths and about 39,100 hospital admissions in older people in England, up to May 9.