Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine protection decreases


Frontline workers and the elderly will experience decreased vaccine protection first as they were prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination worldwide. — AFP

Protection from two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines wanes within less than six months, according to a study of phone app data announced on Aug 25 (2021).

This suggests that booster shots may be needed to ensure prolonged coverage.

The latest finding comes as several countries are rolling out additional jabs for the fully vaccinated, a move slammed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as millions in the world have yet to receive a single dose.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab was 88% effective a month after the second dose, but protection fell to 74% after five to six months, according to the latest analysis of data from the Zoe Covid Study.

The study uses real-world data gathered via a mobile phone app with over a million active users.

These users log details on their vaccinations and test results, which is then analysed by researchers.

The study drew on more than 1.2 million test results and participants.

Protection from the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine fell from 77% one month after a second dose to 67% after four to five months.

The lead scientist on the Zoe app, Professor Dr Tim Spector, said that more data was needed on how vaccine effectiveness changes in different age groups.

British cases grew sharply after social restrictions lifted in July (2021), but hospitalisations have been stable for the month of August (2021).

But the genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London in the United Kingdom warned that waning vaccine effectiveness among the most vulnerable could lead to more hospitalisations and deaths by winter.

“In my opinion, a reasonable worst-case scenario could see protection below 50% for the elderly and healthcare workers by winter,” he said.

If high levels of infection remain, fuelled by the more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta viral variant and easing of restrictions, “this scenario could mean increased hospitalisations and deaths”, Prof Spector said.

“We urgently need to make plans for vaccine boosters,” he added.

He also said the UK needed to decide whether its current focus on vaccinating children was “sensible if our aim is to reduce deaths and hospital admissions”.

The latest findings come after another study by University of Oxford scientists, published on Aug 19 (2021), found that the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine declines faster than that of AstraZeneca/Oxford.

The UK began vaccinating older or clinically vulnerable people last December (2020), so these make up most of the people who have been fully vaccinated for half a year and are now likely to be at increased risk of infection. – AFP Relaxnews

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