Two COVID shots effective against India variant: study

A double dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine is almost as effective against the fast-spreading Indian variant as it is against Britain's dominant strain, according to English health officials.

A study by Public Health England found the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose.

That compared with 93% effectiveness of Britain's dominant variant - the Kent strain.

And two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant.

Britain's health minister Matt Hancock:

"And the message for everybody watching this, which comes from this data, is that getting the second jab is vital. And I'm really glad that people are coming forward in such large numbers to get the second jab. But we all know that the way out of this pandemic is the vaccine."

He added the data was groundbreaking and that he was increasingly hopeful that the government would be able to lift more COVID restrictions next month.

Under the government's plans, a lifting of remaining coronavirus restrictions is due to take place from June 21.