Reuters. – British health authorities said on Saturday that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are almost effective against the rapidly spreading variant of the Coronavirus that was first identified in India and are also against the prevailing alternative in the United Kingdom.
The UK Health Secretary said the data was groundbreaking and he is increasingly hoping the government can lift more restrictions it has put in place to stem the spread of Covid-19 next month.
A study by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptoms of various disease B.1.617.2 two weeks after the second dose.
This compares with a 93% efficacy versus the “Kent” B.1.1.7 variant, which is predominant in the UK.
PHE said two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptoms of the Indian type of disease, compared with 66% effective against the Kent variant.
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“I am increasingly confident that we are on the right track, because these data show that the vaccine, after two doses, works just as well (against the Indian alternative),” Health Minister Matt Hancock told the media.
According to the government’s plans, the remaining restrictions to curb the Coronavirus will be lifted from June 21.
The UK has launched the fastest vaccination program in Europe to date, but it has faced a new challenge due to the spread of the species first identified in India.
Data released on Saturday showed that new Covid-19 cases reported in the UK increased by 10.5% in the seven days through May 22, although it was still a fraction of the levels seen earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month ordered to speed up administration of the second remaining doses for those over 50 and people at clinical risk.
PHE said that the first dose of both vaccines was 33% effective against disease symptoms for B.1.617.2 after three weeks, less than 50% effective against B.1.1.7.
Hancock said this showed that getting two doses of the vaccine is “very vital”.
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