FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California will be the outside administrator tasked with ramping up the state's coronavirus vaccine delivery system, which to date has been slow, stilted and plagued by confusion, the state health agency said in a statement Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California will be the outside administrator tasked with ramping up the state's coronavirus vaccine delivery system, which to date has been slow, stilted and plagued by confusion, the state health agency said in a statement Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)(AP)

Pfizer vaccine only slightly less effective against key S.African variant: Study

The study was conducted on blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine. Its findings are limited, because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in the new South African variant.
Reuters, New York
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:13 AM IST

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine appeared to only lose a small bit of effectiveness against an engineered virus with three key mutations from the new variant found in South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker.

The study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), which has not yet been peer-reviewed, showed a less than two-fold reduction in antibody titer levels, indicating the vaccine would likely still be effective in neutralizing a virus with the so-called E484K and N501Y mutations found in the South African variant.

The study was conducted on blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine. Its findings are limited, because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in the new South African variant.

The scientists are currently engineering a virus with the full set of mutations and expect to have results from that in around two weeks, according to Pei-Yong Shi, an author of the study and a professor at UTMB.

The results are more encouraging than another non-peer reviewed study from scientists at Columbia University earlier on Wednesday which used a slightly different method and showed antibodies generated by the shots were significantly less effective against the South Africa variant.

One possible reason for the difference could be that the Pfizer findings are based on an engineered coronavirus, and the Columbia study used a pseudovirus based on the vesicular stomatitis virus, a different type of virus, UTMB's Shi said. He said he believes that finding in pseudoviruses should be validated using the real virus.

The study also showed even better results against several key mutations from the highly transmissible UK variant of the virus. Shi said they were also working on an engineered virus with the full set of mutations from that variant as well.

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Miller, a cattle farmer first elected in 2018, denied involvement with the group. He was in Washington, D.C., for former President Donald Trump's speech on Jan. 6.(Reuters file photo)
Miller, a cattle farmer first elected in 2018, denied involvement with the group. He was in Washington, D.C., for former President Donald Trump's speech on Jan. 6.(Reuters file photo)

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Children in high school -- roughly ages 14-18 in the United States -- should be able to get the vaccine "sometime this fall," Fauci told NBC's "Meet the Press."(Reuters file photo)
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The firm said that the technology doesn’t include speech to avoid the creation of “deepfake people”.(Twitter / @KS1729 / @AdamRutherford)
The firm said that the technology doesn’t include speech to avoid the creation of “deepfake people”.(Twitter / @KS1729 / @AdamRutherford)

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A Johnson & Johnson worker prepares a syringe during the Phase 3 trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in an undated photograph. (REUTERS FILE)
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By HT Correspondent I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
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Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:28 PM IST
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Over 239.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered all over the world as of Saturday.(AP)
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Which other countries have vaccinated senior citizens against Covid-19

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UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:07 PM IST
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"We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus," Biden said. (REUTERS)
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Posted by Prashasti Singh | Reuters, Venezuela
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:57 PM IST
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference.(Reuters)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference.(Reuters)

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Bloomberg
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The bomb squad and SWAT team were on the scene of what police described as an "active situation."(AP file photo)
The bomb squad and SWAT team were on the scene of what police described as an "active situation."(AP file photo)

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ANI, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:41 PM IST
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Britain has rolled out Europe's fastest Covid-19 vaccination programme, raising the prospect of a lifting of its current lockdown restrictions between now and the end of June.(AP)
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UK says more than 20 million people have received Covid-19 shot

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:39 PM IST
"A magnificent achievement for the country," Hancock said on Twitter. "The vaccine is our route out. When you get the call, get the jab!"
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Msehli said many of the survivors suffered from burns from engine fuel, and hypothermia, with some taken to hospital. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)
Msehli said many of the survivors suffered from burns from engine fuel, and hypothermia, with some taken to hospital. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)

UN says 15 Europe-bound migrants have died at sea off Libya

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:25 PM IST
Safa Msehli, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said the dead were on a rubber boat carrying at least 110 migrants, who embarked from the Libyan coastal town of Zawiya on Friday.
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