A new study by the United Kingdom has found that two vaccine doses offer strong protection against the variant of the coronavirus first detected in India, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The UK government’s data showed that two doses offered 81% protection against the B.1.617.2 variant, while a single dose offered only 33%, the newspaper reported, quoting two unidentified officials who attended a meeting where these figures were presented.

A double-dose regimen also offered 87% against the B.1.1.7 mutation detected in Kent in England, while a single dose provided 51%, according to the data.

This shows that a single vaccine dose offers less protection against the mutant strain identified in India than it does against the variant detected in the UK.

For its research, Public Health England took data from the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines, according to the newspaper. Another study, a real world analysis, had shown that two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine proved to be around 90% effective against symptomatic disease.

The Public Health England said in its weekly surveillance report on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine was 89% effective after two doses, and 53% after the first shot. To understand the protection provided by the vaccine better, the effectiveness was also compared 4 to 13 days after vaccination. In this, the AstraZeneca shot provided 58% effectiveness after the first shot and 90% after the second.

A similar study of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed that it was 90% effective against symptomatic disease after two doses, and 54% after the first shot. When studied four to 13 days after the first vaccine dose, the effectiveness rose to 57%, and it rose to 91% after the second dose.

However, Public Health England cautioned that the data was still developing and inconclusive.

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Covid-19: Two AstraZeneca doses around 90% effective in real-world analysis, says UK health agency

The UK has recorded 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant, Bloomberg reported on Friday. The number of cases doubled in a week’s time.

Despite this, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed confidence that the lockdown in England will end as planned on June 21.

The B.1.617 variant contains two key mutations to the outer “spike” portion of the virus that attaches to human cells, according to Reuters. The World Health Organization has said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India last December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.

On May 10, the WHO classified it as a “variant of concern,” which also includes mutations first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. “There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid, had said. The variant has already spread to other countries, and many nations have moved to cut or restrict travel to and from India.