South African variants can “break through” the Pfizer vaccine, according to an Israeli study

Jerusalem — A variant of the coronavirus found in South Africa has the potential to “break through” Pfizer / BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent. According to actual data surveys in Israel, the epidemic in the country is low and the study is not a peer. Examination.

The study, published on Saturday, compared approximately 400 people who tested positive for COVID-19 more than 14 days after vaccination once or twice with the same number of unvaccinated patients. .. Features such as age and gender matched.

A study by Tel Aviv University and Clarit, Israel’s largest healthcare provider, found that the South African variant B.1.351 accounts for about 1% of all COVID-19 cases in all people surveyed. ..

However, in patients who received the vaccine twice, the prevalence of the mutant was eight times higher than in unvaccinated patients, 5.4% vs. 0.7%.

This is because the vaccine is effective against South African mutants compared to the original coronavirus and the first identified mutant in the UK that now constitutes almost all COVID-19 cases in Israel. It suggests that it is low, the researchers said.

“We found that the proportion of South African variants was disproportionately higher among those who received the second vaccination compared to the unvaccinated group. It means that we can break through to some extent, “said Addistan of Tel Aviv University.

However, researchers warned that due to their rarity in Israel, the study had a small sample size for people infected with South African variants.

They also estimate overall vaccine efficacy against any mutant, as this study only targeted people who had already been tested positive for COVID-19, not overall infection rates. He said he did not intend to do so.

Pfizer and BioNTech were unable to contact us immediately for comment outside business hours.

The two companies said on April 1 that the vaccine was about 91% effective in preventing COVID-19, citing the latest study data involving participants who were indirectly inoculated for up to 6 months.

For South African variants, there are nine cases of COVID-19 in a group of 800 South African research volunteers in which B.1.351 is endemic, all of which occur among participants who have obtained placebo. They said they did. Of these nine cases, six were individuals infected with South African variants.

Several previous studies have shown that Pfizer / BioNTech shots are less potent against the B.1.351 variant than other variants of the coronavirus, but still provide strong protection.

According to Stern, the results of the study may raise concerns, but the low prevalence of South African strains was prevalence.

“Even if a South African variant breaks through vaccine protection, it’s not widespread throughout the population,” Stern said, and the British variant could “stop” the spread of South African strains. He added that there is.

Almost 53% of Israel’s 9.3 million population receives both Pfizer doses. Israel has regained its economy significantly in recent weeks, but the pandemic appears to be retreating, with infection rates, severe illnesses and hospitalizations declining sharply. About one-third of Israelis are under the age of 16, which means they are not yet eligible for shots.

By Maayan Lubell

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