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New data from the United Kingdom indicates that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the India variant, which has previously been labeled by U.S. health officials as a “variant of interest.”
India has suffered an increasingly difficult crisis in recent months, hitting a global high in daily coronavirus deaths with 4,529 on Wednesday.
With several variants appearing within the country, health officials in other countries feared the possibility that the current vaccines would see reduced efficacy. Earlier in May, France’s health minister reported around 20 cases of the India variant, identified as B.1.617.
However, the British government has touted a new study published by Public Health England that shows for the first time that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines remain “highly effective” against the India variant.
The study, which covered a five-week period between April 5 and May 16, found that the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against the India variant two weeks after the second dose, and the AstraZeneca vaccine was 60% effective against variant in the same time frame.
Most importantly, the study also looked at effectiveness after administering just one dose of each vaccine, finding only 33% effectiveness from either vaccine three weeks after one dose.
For comparison, the flu vaccine usually has an effectiveness between 40-60%, according to CDC.
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.
“This new evidence is groundbreaking – and proves just how valuable our COVID-19 vaccination program is in protecting the people we love,” Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said. “It’s clear how important the second dose is to secure the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 and its variants – and I urge everyone to book in their jab when offered.”
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s minister for COVID-19 vaccine deployment, called the data “astounding” and stressed the importance of getting two jabs.
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Health Canada extends expiry dates for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines set to expire Monday – CityNews Toronto
The Ontario government said Saturday certain lots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire on May 31 can now be used past their original expiry date following authorization by Health Canada.
“Health Canada has issued an authorization to extend the expiry date of specific lots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from six months to seven months, following the review of submitted stability data,” said Alexandra Hilkene, press secretary to the minister of health.
Hilkene said vaccines that were set to expire May 31 can now be used until July 1.
NEW: Health Canada approves extending AstraZeneca expiry date from May 31st to July 1 “following a review of stability data.” It means Ontario’s AZ doses, set to expire this Monday, are no longer at risk of spoilage. #onpoli
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) May 29, 2021
Pharmacies and physicians’ offices had been rushing to administer thousands of shots this weekend ahead of the now-changed expiry date to avoid wasting doses.
The province started offering it for second shots to people who received the dose between March 10 and March 19 at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston, and at some primary care offices.
Approximately 90,000 people participated in the AstraZeneca pilot between March 10 and March 19. Many eager vaccine recipients reported frustration this week when trying to book second doses at pharmacies that were still waiting on delayed supply.
“Acceleration of AstraZeneca second doses will be continued with a 12-week interval, dependent on vaccine supply, with booking eligibility based on the date of the first dose,” Hilkene said Saturday. “AstraZeneca doses will be distributed across the province to be available for individuals at the 12-week interval.”
The province paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month due to an increase in reports of rare but deadly blood clots.
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