The vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca / Oxford are proving to be almost as effective against the Indian variant of the coronavirus as against the English variant, a study by health authorities in England, Public Health England (PHE) said on Saturday.

According to the PHE study, which was conducted between April 5 and May 16, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic Indian variant disease two weeks after the second dose, compared to 93% of effectiveness against the English variant.

Over the same period, AstraZeneca's serum was 60% effective, compared to 66% against the English variant which had been detected in Kent.

The Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, welcomed these results which he described as "innovative", at a time when the government counts on its vaccination campaign to protect itself from an outbreak of the Indian variant which puts in peril the continuation of its deconfinement plan.

Shortening the interval between the two doses of the vaccine

To stop the spread of this variant B.1.617.2, which may become "dominant" according to health authorities, the interval between the two doses of vaccine (up to three months) has been reduced to eight weeks for people. over 50 and most vulnerable, and screening has been stepped up in affected areas (especially north-west England and parts of London). The two vaccines studied are 33% effective against the symptomatic disease caused by the Indian variant three weeks after the injection of the first dose, compared to about 50% against the Kent variant, according to PHE.

The coronavirus genome was sequenced for 12,675 cases included in this study, of which 1,054 were Indian variant cases. According to PHE data, at least 2,889 cases of the Indian variant were recorded in England between February 1 and May 18. Of these, 104 cases led to an emergency room visit, 31 required hospitalization and six resulted in death.

“Two doses of either vaccine provide high levels of protection against symptomatic disease of the B.1.617.2 variant,” said Mary Ramsay, PHE immunization manager.

“We expect vaccines to be even more effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” she added.

In the United Kingdom, the country most bereaved in Europe by the virus with more than 127,000 deaths, more than seven in ten adults have received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and more than four in ten have received two doses.

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