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Pfizer, AstraZeneca shots preventing hospitalizations from Delta variant in Britain

Last Updated Jun 15, 2021 at 6:01 am EDT

Two vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine sit on a table at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Halifax on Monday, May 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A new study in England suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely good at keeping people from ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, even after just one dose.

Public Health England says it looked at the records of 14,000 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant between April 12 and June 4.

It found two doses of either vaccine were more than 90 per cent effective at keeping people out of the hospital.

After one dose, Pfizer was 94 per cent effective against hospitalization, and AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 71 per cent effective.

This is good news for Canada’s vaccine strategy of initially extending second dose intervals to get as many people their first dose faster.

The UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said “This evidence of the effectiveness of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab.”

“If you have had your first dose but haven’t booked your second yet – please do so. It will help save lives and boost us on the road to recovery,” Hancock said.


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The Ministry of Health is now looking to update the province’s vaccine booking system so residents will have the option to mix mRNA vaccine doses at vaccination clinics that are only offering one of the vaccines.

As it stands now, Ontarians are able to mix and match mRNA shots if they get their second dose at a clinic that is offering both Pfizer and Moderna.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) continues to recommend that, barring situations where it is not available, individuals get the same shot for their second dose. Ontario approved the mixing of mRNA vaccines earlier this month.

 

Canada’s strategy of getting first doses into the arms of as many people as possible before moving on to second doses has been controversial, leading to health officials urging provincial governments to move quicker.

An earlier study from Public Health England suggests a single dose is far less effective than both doses at preventing symptoms from COVID-19.

Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said last week that while the public health unit’s vaccination rollout has helped limit the spread of the virus, there are growing concerns about the Delta variant and its presence in the community.

Almost two in three Canadians now have one dose of vaccine, but slightly more than one in 10 have both doses.

Canada is pivoting to second doses rapidly, however, with 1.2 million people joining the fully vaccinated group just in the last four days.

The country is poised to receive more than 8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week thanks to a massive infusion of shots from Moderna and a revised delivery schedule.

The federal government says the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical firm will deliver a total of 5.8 million jabs in two separate shipments this week.

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