Israeli researchers report that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is as effective against B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, aka the U.K. variant, as it is against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain. The vaccine was found to be moderately less effective against the B.1.351 (South African) variant and the combined British-South African variants of the coronavirus.

The study was published on March 20 in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

“Our findings show that future variants could necessitate a modified vaccine as the virus mutates to increase its infectivity,” said principal investigator Ran Taube of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics in Ben-Gurion University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

The researchers are continuing to test other circulating variants as they emerge, consisting of mutations that could possibly pose a challenge to the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness. A recently detected Israeli variant is “of no clinical or epidemiological significance,” according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

The ministry is conducting ongoing studies regarding the known coronavirus mutations, sending samples from every hospital and the four national health maintenance organizations to the Central Virology Lab at Sheba Medical Center.

Thus far, these studies support the Ben-Gurion research, showing that no currently circulating variants are significantly resistant to the Pfizer vaccine.

This article was first published by Israel21c.


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