Pfizer vaccine may be less effective against SA and UK variants, according to Israeli study
- An Israeli study found that the Pfizer vaccine may not provide full protection against the South African strain.
- Fully vaccinated patients saw protection against a surging UK strain, but partially vaccinated patients did not.
- Israel has the world's fastest vaccine roll-out, but has excluded Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories.
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Coronavirus variants first found in South Africa and the UK are able to partially "breakthrough" the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to an Israeli study that studied real-world infection data. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
The study, released on Saturday, compared the incidences of both variants between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The study, conducted by Tel Aviv University and Israeli healthcare provider Clalit tracked almost 400 people, and counted both partially vaccinated (one dose) and fully vaccinated (two dose) patients.
The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to be eight times more prevalent among vaccinated patients while the UK strain, B.1.1.7, was more prevalent among partially vaccinated patients, though the fully-vaccinated showed increased protection against the UK strain.
The study suggests that the Pfizer vaccine provides less protection against the South African variant than the original coronavirus, but it is not able to actually conclude that because it is focused on those who have already tested positive for the virus, not total infection rates.
Roughly 80% of Israel's population is vaccinated, with almost 53% of the population having received both Pfizer doses. The study found that only 1% of total cases in the study were the South African variant, a promising sign for Israel, the most vaccinated country.
Israel's vaccine totals do not include Palestinians. Israel occupies the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, and has rolled out the vaccine much more slowly in Palestinian territories, claiming that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the distribution of vaccines.
Earlier this month, a Palestinian student studying at Tel Aviv University in Israel won the right to be vaccinated after being turned away from a school vaccination site and then suing. Israel has just recently begun to vaccinate Palestinians.
In data released on April 1, Pfizer and Biotech found that their shot was 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 and showed early signs of preventing the spread of the B.1.351 strain as well. Earlier lab trials had suggested that the vaccine provides some protection against the strain, but not full protection.
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