Recent study carried out by Israeli researchers has established that the South African variant of COVID-19 can still penetrate the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. (PFE) in collaboration with biotech company BioNTech.
This study was done using real world data in Israel though the prevalence of the South African variant is low in the country and the research also is yet to be reviewed by other experts in the area.
This study was done by Tel Aviv University and Clait, the country’s largest healthcare provider. The study compares 400 individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and tested positive for COVID-19 14 days after they had been vaccinated either from the first shot or the second shot.
The data also took into account gender, age and other characteristics.
According to patients who had already received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the prevalence rate of the South African, B.1.351, was found to be eight times higher than than those unvaccinated i.e. 5.4% to 0.7%.
“This suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that has come to comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel,” said the Israeli researchers.
However the researchers cautioned that the study only used a small sample size of individuals infected with the South African variant because of its low prevalence rate in the country compared to the original variant.
“We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection,” added the researchers from Tel Aviv University.