The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was found to be 88% effective against B.1.617.2 two weeks after the second dose; compared to 93% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant.
Meanwhile, two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant compared to 66% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant.
Three weeks after the first dose, both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2, compared to around 50% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant.
Led by Public Health England (PHE), the study is believed to be the first on vaccine effectiveness against the B.1.617.2 variant. It covered 1,054 people in the UK who were confirmed as having the B.1.617.2 variant, recorded since April 5.
“As with other variants, even higher levels of effectiveness are expected against hospitalisation and death," notes the authority. "There are currently insufficient cases and follow-up periods to estimate vaccine effectiveness against severe outcomes from the B.1.617.2 variant. PHE will continue to evaluate this over the coming weeks.”
While the B.1.1.7 (UK / Kent variant) is the dominant strain in the UK, a study published in the BMJ last week suggested that cases of the B.1.617.2 variant had risen by more than 160% in the week to May 19 (rising from 1,313 to 3,424). It could be as much as 50% more transmissible than the UK variant, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies: making it a concern as the UK eases restrictions.
Meanwhile, B.1.617 lineages have dominated cases in India as the country struggles with a COVID-19 surge.
The variant had been detected in 43 countries across 6 continents.
The pre-print study from PHE can be found here.