AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is 97 per cent effective against India strain, data shows as it 'spreads like wildfire' in UK

THE AstraZeneca vaccine is 97 per cent effective at dealing with the Indian variant of the Covid, a new study has found.

The UK has now recorded 1,313 cases of the strain and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has repeated his plea for people who have not yet been vaccinated to get the jab.

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He said "vast majority" of people diagnosed with the super-infectious Indian mutation in hotspots Bolton and Blackburn haven't had the vaccine – despite being eligible.

The Health Secretary says he has a "high degree of confidence" that the jab does work against the new variant, which could be up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain.

A study 3,235 vaccinated healthcare workers in India given the AstraZeneca found that only 85 reported symptoms of Covid and just two required hospital treatment.

The study by the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi there had been no deaths or admissions to intensive care of those who have been vaccinated, India Today reports.

Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director, said: “Our study demonstrated that 97.38 per cent of those vaccinated were protected from an infection and hospitalisation rate was only 0.06 per cent.

“The results of the study show that break-through infections occur only in a small percentage and these are primarily minor infections that do not lead to severe disease.

“There were no ICU admissions or death. Our study makes the case for vaccination stronger."

Early analysis shows that Brits who have received the Covid jab are protected against the Indian variant.

The vaccinations offer positive signs of resistance to the spreading mutant strain, it has emerged.

Officials in Whitehall who have seen the limited data available are said to be optimistic about combating the variant, an insider revealed.

The source said: “There’s confidence with the early data”, adding they were “optimistic” about the initial findings.

In an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky, the Health Secretary said: "The main message for everyone is to get vaccinated – if you're in an eligible group, come forward.

"In Bolton, we have seen number of people in hospital with the variant. The vast majority have been eligible for the jab but not taken it.

"If you're eligible, please come forward – we know the jab protects you."

Meanwhile in India itself, police are beating lockdown rule breakers with batons in an Indian state as the country battles a crippling second wave of Covid cases and deaths.

It comes as masses of dead bodies buried in shallow sand graves have washed up on the banks of the river Ganges with cremation costs tripling.

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