The South African variant of the novel coronavirus may reduce protection from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two-thirds, Reuters reports.

  • It is not clear if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at all effective against the mutation, which was originally discovered in South Africa and became widespread there.

What happened?

Per Reuters, Pfizer released details of a new study that created an engineered virus that had the same mutations as the South Africa variant, known as B.1.351.

  • Researchers then tested the virus against blood taken from people who had received the Pfizer vaccine, according to Reuters. They found a two-thirds reduction in neutralizing antibodies compared to what normally happens with the original coronavirus used during vaccine trials.
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  • It’s unclear if the two-thirds number means the virus is ineffective against the variant, though, since there isn’t a benchmark number for researchers to use for comparison, according to Reuters.
  • The researchers found the vaccine could neutralize the virus, according to Fox Business.

Similarly, the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines appear to be effective against the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, according to The Washington Post.

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Bigger picture

Researchers continue to worry about how the South Africa variant will impact those who already received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to The Washington Post.

That said, both Pfizer and Moderna have reportedly begun creating a third shot of their vaccine, which would act as a booster shot to help protect against the variant, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.