Study finds that S. African variant can bypass Pfizer vaccine's shield

A real-world study of data conducted in Israel has reportedly found that the South African variant of the coronavirus possesses the ability to break through the immunity shield created by Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

However, according to reports, it is to be noted that the study in question has not yet been peer reviewed and that the variant’s prevalence within the said country is low.

Study outcomes, which were released on Saturday, supposedly compared data from approximately 400 individuals who tested Covid-19 positive, 14 or more days after they had received one or both doses of vaccine. The data was compared against the same number of individuals that were unvaccinated and had the disease. It matched gender and age, alongside other characteristics.

The study was conducted by the Tel Aviv University along with Israel's biggest provider of healthcare, Clalit. It found that the South Africa variant, B1351, made up approximately 1% of all Covid-19 cases across all the people studied.

It also discovered that among patients that had received both doses of vaccine, the rate of prevalence of the variant was higher by eight fold than those who were unvaccinated; 5.4% against 0.7%.

The outcomes suggest that the vaccine is much less effective when it comes to the South Africa variant. However, it has been emphasized that the vaccine is effective against the original virus, which emerged out of Wuhan, China and the variant that was first discovered in the UK. These two variants make up nearly all of the Covid-19 cases across Israel.

Adi Stern, researcher at Tel Aviv University stated that they have found that incidence of the South African variant is disproportionately higher among individuals vaccinated by a second dose, as compared to the unvaccinated group. Meaning that the variant discovered in South Africa is, to some extent, able to bypass the protection provided by the vaccine.

Researchers have pointed out that the study does not intend to deduce effectiveness of the vaccine against any variant. This is since it only looked at individuals that had tested Covid-19 positive already, and not at the total infection rates.

Source credit: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/s-african-variant-can-break-through-pfizer-vaccines-shield-study