Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine less potent against South Africa variant, preliminary study says

In labaroatory settings, the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is less potent against B.1.351, the variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in South Africa, according to preliminary data released Feb. 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from Pfizer, BioNTech and the Galveston-based University of Texas Medical Branch analyzed blood samples of 15 patients who had received the vaccine to see how well it fought against a coronavirus designed to have the same mutations found in B.1.351. They found a 66 percent decrease in neutralization capabilities when compared to earlier versions of the novel coronavirus.

The research team said it's still unclear what this finding may mean for the vaccine's efficacy in humans, as further research needs to be conducted.

AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have also recently released preliminary clinical data showing their COVID-19 vaccines are not as effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 cases caused by B.1.351.

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but said it's still unclear what this finding may mean for the vaccine's efficacy in people.

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