New Delhi, 23 May: Two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are needed to provide “strong protection” against symptomatic infection from B.1.617.2, the coronavirus variant first identified in India, suggests preliminary data from the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s executive agency, Public Health England (PHE), Financial Times reported on Saturday.
This sharply highlights the public health challenge in India as the B.1.617.2 begins to take over as the “dominant variant of concern” here and the country grapples with a severe shortage of vaccines.
Only around 43.05 million people — around 3 per cent of India’s total population — have received two doses of any Covid-19 vaccine since India started its immunisation programme on January 16 this year. Another 151.90 million people had received at least one dose, according to provisional data from the Health Ministry on Saturday night.
PHE’s analysis looked at the protection provided by two Covid-19 vaccines — one developed by the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca and the other by US pharma giant Pfizer with German biotech company BioNTech — against the B.1.617.2 strain found in India and B.1.1.7 variant first identified in Kent in sout-east England.