India says social media giants should remove "India variant" from content

Darnell Taylor
May 25, 2021

However, both vaccines were only 33 percent effective against the variant from India three weeks after the first dose.

Also on Friday, the head of Germany's public health institute said existing COVID-19 vaccines might be less effective against the B.1.617.2 variant.

The UK government now plans to lift the country's remaining COVID-19 restrictions from June 21, and health secretary Matt Hancock told journalists the PHE's findings ensure the country is on track.

A new study by health officials in England shows for the first time that two doses of COVID-19 vaccines are "highly effective" against the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

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.

Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective.

However, they were only 33% effective three weeks after the first dose, the report said.

Harries added: "The straightforward message is 'get your second dose'".

The analysis included data for all age groups from April 5 to cover the period since the B1.617.2 VOC emerged.

"It has come to our knowledge that a false statement is being circulated online which implies that an "Indian variant" of coronavirus is spreading across the countries".

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Those shots likely will be earmarked for people who already have had a first dose of this product, Tam said. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Speaking to the BBC he said, "That really brings it back down to this race against the vaccine and the virus, except the virus just got faster".

Public Health England (PHE) said 49 confirmed cases of the variant, known as VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1, have been recorded in the United Kingdom and they are "mainly concentrated in Yorkshire and the Humber" but it is not now being treated as a variant of concern.

Asked about how the data could affect the easing of restrictions in England from June 21, Prof Hopkins said it was "too early to say".

He said it would become apparent over the next one to two weeks whether localised outbreaks of the variant would become more generalised.

Data also show it takes longer for the AstraZeneca jab to reach maximum effectiveness.

The British government noted that a factor in the difference between each vaccine's effectiveness may lie in the "rollout" of the second dose of AstraZeneca, which was later than that of the Pfizer vaccine. The designation will also spur efforts to control the variant's spread and, potentially, development of new diagnostics or the modification of vaccines or treatments.

"The cases of the B1617.2 variant are rising, they have risen very steeply and much of the media have reported a 160 per cent rise in cases over the week period but they seem to be slightly levelling at the moment".

Indian government's strong response comes after the World Health Organization clarified that it does not identify the strains and variants of COVID-19 with the names of the countries they originate from rather it refers to them with their scientific name.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the new evidence "groundbreaking" and said that over 20 million people - more than 1 in 3 - have significant protection against this new variant.

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