- AstraZeneca Vaccine is 60% effective against B1.617.2 variant: Study
- Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against B1.617.2: Study
- Infected people with even 1 shot of vaccine don’t need hospitals: Expert
New Delhi: A study by Public Health England shows for the first time that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India. According to Public Health England (PHE), while the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 88 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 from the B1.617.2 variant of concern (VOC) two weeks after the second dose, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was 60 per cent effective against the symptomatic disease caused by the B1.617.2 VOC.
However, the effectiveness from both types of vaccines was found to be only 33 per cent against the VOC found in India after just one dose of either jab.
The analysis shows that vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant is similar after two doses compared to the B1.1.7 VOC discovered in Kent and currently the dominant variant in the UK.
The Pfizer jabs were found to be 93 per cent effective against the B1.1.7 VOC compared to 66 per cent effectiveness from AstraZeneca against the B.1.1.7 variant.
After just one dose, they both showed around 50 per cent effectiveness against the B1.1.7 VOC. PHE said it expects to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalisation and death over time.
This study provides reassurance that two doses of either vaccine offer high levels of protection against symptomatic disease from the B1.617.2 variant, said Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE.
We expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospitalisation and death, so it is vital to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants, she said.
The analysis included data for all age groups from April 5 to cover the period since the B1.617.2 VOC emerged. It included 1,054 people confirmed as having the B1.617.2 variant through genomic sequencing, including participants of several ethnicities.
PHE noted that the difference in effectiveness between the vaccines after two doses may be explained by the fact that rollout of second doses of AstraZeneca was later than for the Pfizer vaccine, and other data on antibody profiles show it takes longer to reach maximum effectiveness with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Separate PHE analysis indicates that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has so far prevented 13,000 deaths and around 39,100 hospitalisations in older people in England, up to May 9.
Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, Deputy Medical Director at Sunrise Group of Hospitals in Kochi says that variants are normal expected evolutionary outcomes from virus. He also spoke about how we have on ground evidence of vaccine’s efficiency against the COVID-19. He tells NDTV,
What we see in India, people who are vaccinated are not getting hospitalised. Hospitals in India maybe full, but there is no one who has received two doses of vaccine. That is hard and on the ground evidence that the vaccines work.
Dr Jayadevan further says that we have a very good data coming from PHE who have done a fantastic job on keeping the rest of the world updated on what is happening in England.
Genome sequencing in England is one of the best in the world, and they have actively sequenced all the cases that are coming into their country. Therefore, as part of their evaluation, we have almost 3,000 patients that they have identified with this new variant – B.1.617.2. What is encouraging is that only 1 per cent of these people, need hospitalisation. So, that is the same as the original virus. 3,000 is not a small number, but it is not a very big number either. The other aspect is the vaccines. UK has used AstraZeneca or the British version of Covidsheild, and Pfizer, so those who take both doses are at least 80 per cent protected from symptomatic disease, he said.
Dr Jayadevan also explained two expected outcomes and types of protection with any vaccine. He said,
Most people know that in vaccination we talk about two types of protection- symptomatic disease protection. But what healthcare workers and experts are most concerned about is hospitalisation or serious illness protection. When it comes to critical illness protection or severe infection, all of the 10-12 vaccines that are licensed to use around the world, are excellent at preventing severe disease. Of course there may be some exceptions.
While there is an ongoing debate over if the second wave of infection is affecting more younger people. This study also found that the variant found in India not causing severe diseases. Dr Jayadevan explains,
There are a couple of entities in the second wave, the first is how many people are getting infected and second is how many people are dying, if a 100 people are infected. Both are separate numbers. So, the first if we unleash this variant into a new village, how many will get infection. It is estimated in the world through various modelling studies that the B.1.617.2 variant is significantly more transmissible than the variant which we had in our country last year, and also the variant that first originated in UK. There’s no doubt about that. What is difficult is to separate the behaviour of the virus and the behaviour of human beings. The casual attitude of the people who believe that the virus has gone away and they have not been taking precautions has caused a lot. Secondly, the most important is how many people are dying. If, for experimental sake, we infect 100 people from the new virus strain, and the same number of people from the old strain, the same number of deaths, severe disease will occur and the same number will end up in ICUs. That is the most important message here.
PHE has said there are currently insufficient cases and follow-up periods to estimate vaccine effectiveness against severe outcomes from the B1.617.2 variant but added that it will continue to evaluate this over the coming weeks. However, as with other variants, it remains confident that even higher levels of effectiveness are expected against hospitalisation and death.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.