Pfizer and BioNTech said on Thursday that their Covid-19 vaccine was highly effective against the South African variant in the latest phase of ongoing clinical trials.
No cases of the disease were seen in South Africa during the phase three study among participants who received their second dose, the companies said in a statement.
Several variants of the coronavirus that may be more transmissible have raised concerns around the world about whether existing vaccines will still protect the world from an ever-changing virus.
“In South Africa, where the B.1.351 lineage is prevalent and where 800 participants have been enrolled, nine cases of Covid-19 have been observed, all in the placebo group,” the companies said.
All nine strains have been sequenced and six of them have been confirmed to be of the B.1.351 line, they said.
“The high efficacy of the vaccine observed up to six months after a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa strengthens confidence in the overall efficacy of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.
Overall, the vaccine was 91.3% effective against Covid-19 in analysis of 46,307 trial participants across multiple countries.
Of the 927 confirmed symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the trial, 850 cases were in the placebo group and 77 cases in the vaccinated group.
The vaccine was 100% effective in preventing serious illness as defined by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 95.3% effective in preventing serious illness as defined by the State Food and Drug Administration -United.
Pfizer and BioNTech said in January that “small differences” found in tests comparing the original virus and recent versions “should not lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.”
The companies said Thursday that the new data “supports previous results from immunogenicity studies demonstrating that (the vaccine) induced a robust neutralizing antibody response to the B1.351 (South African) variant, and although inferior to the wild type strain, does not appear to affect the high efficacy observed against this variant “.
The number of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide has passed 2.8 million since the pandemic began a year ago, with vaccines seen as the only real chance of returning to some form of normalcy.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by UK Time News staff and is posted Platforms.)