A study by the University of Oxford, released in Cell, demonstrates that currently available vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, will provide protection against the Delta (B.1.617.2) and Kappa (B1.617.1) variants; formerly the ‘Indian’ variants.1 The study investigated the ability of monoclonal antibodies in sera from recovered people, and sera from vaccinated people to neutralise the Delta and Kappa variants. Neutralisation against the Delta and Kappa variants was comparable with that seen against the Alpha (B.1.1.7; formerly ‘Kent’) and Gamma (P.1; formerly ‘Brazilian’) variants, with no evidence of widespread antibody escape as seen with the Beta (B.1.351; formerly South Africa) variant. 1 This may provide an initial indication that similar levels of protection could be achieved in the real-world setting. Sub-analysis of the Phase III COV002 trial in the UK demonstrated vaccine efficacy of 70.4% (95% CI: 43.6% to 84.5%) at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 against the Alpha variant, when measured more than 14 days after a second dose.2
These results build on the recent analysis by Public Health England showing early evidence of real-world data that two doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are effective against the Delta variant, with similar levels of protection achieved as those seen against the Alpha variant.3
Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, said: “We are encouraged to see the non-clinical results published from Oxford and these data, alongside the recent early real-world analysis from Public Health England, provide us with a positive indication that our vaccine can have significant impact against the Delta variant. This gives us great hope that even as these new variants continue to spread, our vaccine would continue to provide protection for people across the world and help turn the tide of the pandemic for the people of India.”
While data is still building, early studies have now demonstrated the vaccine’s ability to have a positive impact against all the key global variants of concern and support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization recommendation on the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in countries where new variants are prevalent.
The Indian variant is a key contributor to the current wave of infection ravaging the Indian subcontinent, and it has recently been classified as a variant of concern by the WHO. These data are very encouraging and demonstrate that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which currently comprises over 90% of all doses being supplied in India, and as of June 2021 represents over 90% of all doses supplied through COVAX globally, will have a significant impact as cases of these two new variants increase.