They are effective against the B.1.1.7 mutation which remains the dominant strain across the United Kingdom and first detected in Kent

This weekend Public Health England published a study which showed that cases of the B.1.617.2 strain had risen sharply in the previous seven days up to 3424 from 1313 in the previous week.  

They also showed that new infections were predominantly affecting towns in Northwest England and London although clusters have formed in other parts of the United Kingdom.  

There is no evidence yet to suggest that this Indian strain causes more serious disease, but it appears to be more transmissible than the Kent variant.  

The PHE study, which took place between 5th April and 16th May, found that both the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variants. 

Some effective two weeks after the second dose compared with 93% effectiveness against the Kent strain.  

Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine was 60% effective compared with 66% against the Kent variant over the same period. 

Both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, compared with about 50% against the Kent strain.  

This was reported in the Independent and the PHE study analysed 12675 cases including 1054 of the Indian variant confirmed by genomic sequencing.  

Public Health England said that the difference in the effectiveness between the two vaccines may be due to the fact that the AstraZeneca second dose had been rolled out later than the Pfizer vaccine second dose.  

Data also showed that it took longer for the AstraZeneca vaccine to reach its maximum effectiveness. 

Dr Mary Ramsey, the Head of Immunisation at Public Health England added “this study provides reassurance that two doses of either vaccine of high levels of protection against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant.”

The London General Practice, the leading London doctors’ clinic, commends the government on its vaccination programme and encourages all those eligible to ensure that they are vaccinated.

Dr Paul Ettlinger

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