Are the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines Effective against New Variants?
Vaccines for COVID-19 have been rolling out across the world, but new variants of the virus have also been spreading namely variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil. One pertinent question on peoples’ minds is whether or not the current vaccines will protect against these new variants?
The two vaccines that are being rolled out across Europe are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Therapeutics vaccines. In the past week, we heard some good news from both producers.
What are the new COVID-19 variants?
Three new variants of COVID-19 have come to light in the past month. First, in early December, we heard about a variant detected in Kent in the UK. It was first detected in September and began rapidly spreading in Ireland and the UK in December. Second, found in October and announced in December, was the South African variant. Finally, in January, the third variant, the Brazilian variant was discovered in people travelling from Brazil to Japan.
Why are these variants a worry? The main reason these variants are causing concern is that it’s been found that they are up to 70% more transmittable than the original strain that gripped the world in 2020.
Does the Moderna vaccine protect against the new variants?
Yes. On January 25th, Moderna Therapeutics released a statement. After conducting a study, they found the vaccine effective against the UK variant, but slightly less effective against the South African variant. They are testing adding an additional booster shot, meaning you would receive three shots of the vaccine, to ensure efficacy against any new variant. This is currently being tested on the South African variant.
Does the Pfizer vaccine protect against the new variants?
Yes. On January 28th, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that their vaccine is effective against both the UK and South African COVID-19 variant. While they noticed small differences in the tests they carried out, they stated the differences weren’t significant enough to result in any reduction of the effectiveness of their vaccine.
Both companies continue to monitor the effectiveness of their vaccines as they are rolled out globally and will respond to any new variants as they appear. While new variants are worrying, the positive news from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech is extremely encouraging!