Vaccines protect against multiple variants, additional studies suggest

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

The Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against and prevent illness from common variants of the virus, according to recently released studies.

The vaccine made by Pfizer is effective against the coronavirus variants that originated from the U.K. and South Africa, according to multiple studies released Wednesday that examined real-world vaccinations, The New York Times reported. Moderna reported that an early-stage trial suggested its vaccine is effective against the South African variant and a third variant originating from Brazil when given as a single-dose booster shot.

“At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine infectious disease researcher Annelies Wilder-Smith told the NYT.

The Pfizer vaccine was shown to be more than 95% effective at preventing illness and death in the study conducted by Pfizer and the Israeli Health Ministry, the NYT reported.

“Taken together, these findings suggest that high vaccine uptake can meaningfully stem the pandemic and offers hope for eventual control of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak as vaccination programmes (sic.) ramp up across the rest of the world,” the study concluded.

Overall, there were three studies released Wednesday. The first study, conducted by Moderna in a trial setting and not yet peer-reviewed, examined how the company’s vaccine performed as a booster shot among previously-vaccinated individuals in the U.S.

The other studies, which were published in scientific journals and peer-reviewed, examined real-world vaccination data in the Middle East, according to the NYT. The study conducted by Pfizer and Israel used the country’s national surveillance database while the second study looked at data from more than 200,000 people in Qatar’s national database.

Altogether, Wednesday’s studies add to previous research that also showed the vaccines have high efficacy in combating new coronavirus variants. But top U.S. officials have advocated for continued strict public health restrictions — even for vaccinated individuals — to prevent potential transmission from variants.

“The point I’m saying is that there are variants now circulating,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci saidexplaining why Americans who have been vaccinated should continue wearing masks.

Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have declined since January, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 750 new coronavirus-related deaths and 43,626 new cases.

The U.S. has administered 250 million vaccinations, meaning 45% of the population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC.

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