Luke O'Neill: Vaccines highly effective against Indian variant


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.41 24 May 2021


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Studies suggest the Pfizer vaccine is effective against 30 different COVID variants, according to Professor Luke O’Neill.

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Professor O’Neill discussed the latest data from the UK which shows that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are efficacious against the Indian variant.

He noted that while there is a drop in their effectiveness when compared the original strain, they remain extremely effective in preventing severe disease.

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Luke O'Neill: Vaccines highly effective against Indian variant

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“We know a lot about [the Indian variant] actually,” he said. “It has got 13 mutations, so it is different to the other ones so it is given the number B.1.617.2.

“It is known that it is more transmissible – maybe 50% more than the B.1.1.7 (UK variant) which was the last variant that came along.

“But really there is good news anyway in that the antibodies against the older ones still work against this one in a sense. Nobody has developed severe disease basically from this Indian variant if they have been vaccinated for the previous one.”

He said data released by Public Health England (PHE) over the weekend found both vaccines to be effective in protecting against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant.

Pfizer was found to be 88% effective after two doses – down from over 95% for the original strain and 93.4% for the UK variant.

AstraZeneca meanwhile was found to be just over 60% effective – down from around 75% for the original and 66% for the UK variant.

"High protection"

“One Pfizer jab does give some protection as we know but the second jab really gave a high level of protection against the Indian variant,” said Professor O’Neill.

“AstraZeneca slightly less, it was 60%, but then there was a wider gap between the two doses and some of the people would not have been fully vaccinated so they think they will be equivalent. They will both be able to protect to a very high level.”

Variants

He said a new study carried out by Pfizer suggests the vaccine is efficacious against 30 different variants in circulation around the world.

“So, the view at the moment is, with the vaccines, you may catch the virus if it is a new variant but it won’t progress into severe disease,” he said.

“That is the most important thing because as we always say, we don’t invent vaccines to stop you getting the sniffles, we invent them to stop you getting severe disease and the signs are good that with many of these new variants, the old vaccines should give protection against severe disease.”

You can listen back here:

Luke O'Neill: Vaccines highly effective against Indian variant

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