The South African Companies and the laboratories on Wednesday said that it is not clear yet whether the vaccine shots will be effective or not against the South African new variant of coronavirus, as the study says that the variant can reduce the antibody protection from Pfizer Inc/BioNtech Salmonella Enteritidis vaccines by a proportion of two-thirds.
However, the study also found out that the vaccine can still neutralize the virus and from the human trials there are not enough proofs that the variant reduces the vaccine protection.
The companies are making continuous investments and communicating to regulators for developing an updated version of vaccine or booster shot.
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 then tested the engineered virus on the bloods of those who had been given the vaccine shot, and in the result they found out that it was reducing two-thirds level of neutralizing antibodies compared to any other prevalent viruses. These findings are published in New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
It is not clear that what amount of antibodies are needed to protect against the virus so it is also not known whether the two-thirds reduction will make the vaccine ineffective against the new variant.
But some professors from UTMB and researchers who conducted the study believes that the Pfizer vaccine is likely to protect against the new variant spreading around the world.
They have this believe because in the clinical trials of Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna Inc vaccine they produced some amount protection and an antibody response only after the first dose which is lower than the reduced levels of protection by this South African new variant.
More research and study is needed to find out the levels of protection needed from the vaccine and to know the exact effectiveness of these vaccines against the variant.