The efficacy of Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna, the two leading COVID-19 vaccines that are administered in the U.S and a greater part of the rest of the world are likely to be less effective against the South African variant of the coronavirus.
The reports on both of the vaccines were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
The reports said that even though the vaccines don’t work as an effective weapon against the South African strain, they will manage to neutralize the virus.
Pfizer And Moderna Vaccines Show Less Efficacy Against South African Coronavirus Stain
However, experts said that the level of neutralization that is required to work as a shield and give protection from the strain is still needed to be detected.
According to reports, the study showed that the Pfizer vaccine produced a weakened immune response against the variant that was initially discovered in South African and deadlier than the original one.
The experts also remarked that the reports on the particular studies cannot completely be reliable since they were conducted in lab settings and not the real world.
The NEJM Editor-in-chief, Eric Rubin said on a podcast of the report that the reports came after the vitro studies, and the threshold for neutralization that defines the neutralization is still unknown to them. He added that they are also unaware of the quantitative correlation between antibody levels and protection. Rubin further said that it is quite concerning that they don’t know the clinical significance of the findings.
Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s research was done with the collected blood samples of the vaccinated people against the genetically engineered mutations in Covid of the South African variant.
As a result, the results showed that the shot generated around a third of the antibodies which were normally associated with the original strain of the virus. This activity can be sufficient in neutralizing it.
A statement from Pfizer said that though the vaccine has the potential to neutralize the variants, they were taking the needed steps in the development and seeking authorization for their updated vaccine that is efficient to defeat the variants.
The developers of Moderna also plan to update their vaccine since the study didn’t give them a positive result on its efficacy against the South African strain.
The report in NEJM said that Moderna’s vaccine showed a sixfold drop in antibody levels against the South African variant, however, its efficacy towards the strain is yet to be determined.
A Health Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that South African scientists planned to conduct a meeting in Johannesburg regarding the research on Pfizer.
The Head of Communications and Stakeholder Management, Popo Maja said that the scientists are going to conduct a discussion on the study and will advise the minister, adding that they are not going to release any statement on it until advised by their scientists and they would be guided by the regulator.
Earlier studies suggested that the South African variant is 50% and more contagious than the original coronavirus variant. The variant is even deadlier since it can smoothly escape from the antibodies present in previously infected people.