2 replies

  1. For the study, scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) developed an engineered virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa, known as B.1.351. The spike, used by the virus to enter human cells, is the primary target of many Covid-19 vaccines.

    Researchers tested the engineered virus against blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine, and found a two-thirds reduction in the level of neutralizing antibodies compared with its effect on the most common version of the virus prevalent in U.S. trials.

    Their findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

    Because there is no established benchmark yet to determine what level of antibodies are needed to protect against the virus, it is unclear whether that two-thirds reduction will render the vaccine ineffective against the variant spreading around the world.

    However, UTMB professor and study co-author Pei-Yong Shi said he believes the Pfizer vaccine will likely be protective against the variant.

    “We don’t know what the minimum neutralizing number is. We don’t have that cutoff line,” he said, adding that he suspects the immune response observed is likely to be significantly above where it needs to be to provide protection.

    That is because in clinical trials, both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and a similar shot from Moderna Inc conferred some protection after a single dose with an antibody response lower than the reduced levels caused by the South African variant in the laboratory study.

    Even if the concerning variant significantly reduces effectiveness, the vaccine should still help protect against severe disease and death, he noted. Health experts have said that is the most important factor in keeping stretched healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/17/pfizer-says-south-african-variant-could-significantly-reduce-vaccine-protection.html

  2. CNN — A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine can protect people against concerning new coronavirus variants, including one first seen in South Africa called B.1.351.

    For the study, researchers at Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch genetically engineered versions of the virus to carry some of the mutations found in B.1.351. They tested them against blood samples taken from 15 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

    While the blood serum samples produced less neutralizing antibody activity, it was still enough to neutralize the virus, they wrote in a letter to the journal. This is in line with other studies. And it’s well within what is seen with other viruses, one of the researchers said.

    2020 was a tough year for our skin. At first we went into lockdown and, understandably, our skin care routines and healthy habits took a hit.

    “Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against COVID-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant,” Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch and an author of the study, told CNN.

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/17/health/pfizer-vaccine-south-africa-variant/index.html

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