Pfizer and AstraZeneca ‘highly effective’ against India Covid variant


Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are highly effective at protecting people from the strain of the Covid-19 virus first found in India, a study by Public Health England (PHE) has found.

The analysis, carried out between 5 April and 16 May, found the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the India variant two weeks after a second dose, compared with 93% effectiveness against the Kent strain. For its part, the AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective, compared with 66% against the Kent variant over the same period.

The difference in effectiveness between the two vaccines could be due to the rollout of second AstraZeneca doses taking place later than those for the Pfizer jab, PHE said on Saturday. Data suggests that it takes longer for the AstraZeneca jab to reach maximum effectiveness, so the protection it provides could increase further.

“It is now clear how important the second dose is to secure the strongest possible protection against Covid-19 and its variants,” the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said. “Everyone should book their jab when offered.”

In addition to the protection offered against symptomatic Covid-19, PHE said it expected to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospital admissions and deaths.