Pfizer, BioNTech say vaccine effective against South Africa variant

The arrival of coronavirus vaccines means people have started hawking so-called

"The vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 95.3% effective against severe COVID-19 as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)", Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement.

The trial data "provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against now circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population", BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

That the vaccine is effective against the variant suggests that the vaccine will be highly effective in real-world conditions.

The release of updated results comes on the heels of separate data that showed the vaccine is safe and effective in 12 to 15-year-olds, paving the way for the drugmakers to seek USA and European approval to use the shot in this age group within weeks.

Responding to the first study, the pharmaceutical giant said the data supports "previous results from immunogenicity studies demonstrating that (the vaccine) induced a robust neutralising antibody response to the (South African) variant".

He added that the study looked at severe disease but "it seems likely" that the jab "will reduce less severe types of infection as well".

What's more, teens in the trial who got the vaccine were later found to have levels of neutralizing antibodies - needed to wipe out the virus - similar to levels in older teens and young adults who had been vaccinated.

Some 100 people aged 80 to 96 received their vaccine doses three weeks apart, before the United Kingdom adopted a policy of stretching the time between jabs to 12 weeks.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla

Experts fear new variants of Covid-19 from South Africa and Brazil may be resistant to existing vaccines and treatment.

The second dose of the vaccine has been administered to 92,61,681 people.

Blood samples from all participants in the United Kingdom trial showed the original Wuhan strain was strongly neutralised after two doses of the jab. And there are different vaccines out there with different efficacy against COVID-19 variants.

The South African variant has been detected in several areas of England.

"When we sent these samples to Porton Down they said "we can't give you results right now because we've got to dilute them because they're so high, they're off the scale".

'These mRNA vaccines - it really seems the level of antibodies they elicit are so high, they are persistent.

"We are continuing to set up community-based pop-up sites across our state because we remain committed to making sure the vaccine is accessible for all New Yorkers", Governor Cuomo said. The new study offers the first evidence of how the vaccine will also work in school-age adolescents.

With the world scrambling to inoculate, BioNTech said Tuesday it was on track to manufacture 2.5 billion doses of its vaccine this year.

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