COVID Vaccine Effectiveness Falls Against South African Variant

COVID Vaccine Effectiveness Falls Against South African Variant

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Novavax say their coronavirus vaccines work better against the coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom than the variant that apparently originated in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Novavax, whose vaccine is still in development, said it will start work on a new vaccine to target the South African variant. Pfizer, whose vaccine has been in wide circulation since December, said it doesn’t think a new vaccine is necessary at this time.

The companies announced their testing results as the United States’ first two cases of the South African variant were detected this week in South Carolina. The U.K. variant has been found in at least 26 states. Both variants appear to be more contagious than the original novel coronavirus.

A Pfizer news release said laboratory studies show its vaccine “elicits antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 with key mutations present in U.K. and South African variants.”

The vaccine was “slightly” less effective against the South African variant, the news release said, but Pfizer and its European partner BioNTech “believe the small differences in viral neutralization observed in these studies are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

Pfizer said it doesn’t think a new kind of vaccine is necessary to battle the variants, but if there’s evidence the variants are resistant to the vaccine, it will do so.

“Pfizer and BioNTech believe that the flexibility of BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA vaccine platform is well suited to develop new v

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