Pfizer vaccine not strong enough to resist South African Covid variant: study

Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid vaccine is not strong enough to resist the Covid mutation that was first discovered in South Africa.

According to a new study published, the South African variant appears to be fairly effective in bypassing the vaccine, more so than the original Covid-19 strain, as well as the British variant, known as the Kent mutation.

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Vaccinated eight times higher

Researchers at Tel Aviv University looked at 400 people who tested positive for Covid-19, despite having been vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. 

The South African variant, known as B.1.351, made about 1 per cent of all the Covid-19 cases across all cases.

However, among patients who did receive two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated, namely 5.4 per cent versus 0.7 per cent.

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This indicates that the Pfizer vaccine is much less effective against the South African mutation as compared to the original coronavirus strain and a variant first identified in Kent, the researchers explained.

“We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection,” confirmed Adi Stern, of Tel Aviv University.

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Pfizer and BioNTech could not be reached on Sunday morning.

However, on 1 April the companies did stress that their jab is around 91 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.

Pfizer’s B.1.351 study

With regards to the B.1.351, Pfizer said that out of a group of 800 volunteers in South Africa, it found nine infections, all of which occurred among participants who got the placebo. Of those nine cases, six were among individuals infected with the South African variant.

While the results of the study may cause concern, the low prevalence of the South African strain was encouraging, according to Stern.

“Even if the South African variant does break through the vaccine’s protection, it has not spread widely through the population,” he stressed.

Almost 53 per cent of Israel’s 9.3 million population has received both Pfizer doses, while Israel largely reopened its economy since mid-March.

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