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Sun May 9, 2021, 08:26 AM

Data from Qatar: Pfizer COVID vaccine protects against worrying coronavirus variants

This is a news item from Nature. I don't have much time today, as my wife and I will be visiting my son to celebrate mother's day, so I won't access or excerpt anything other than the news item, which should be open sourced.

Link to the news item: Pfizer COVID vaccine protects against worrying coronavirus variants (Ewen Callaway Nature May 6, 2021) Data from Qatar provide strongest evidence yet that COVID-19 vaccines can stop strains thought to pose a threat to immunization efforts.


Qatar’s second wave of COVID-19 was a double whammy. In January, after months of relatively few cases and deaths, the Gulf nation saw a surge driven by the fast-spreading B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. Weeks later, the B.1.351 strain, which is linked to reinfections and dampened vaccine effectiveness, took hold.

Amid this storm, researchers in Qatar have found some of the strongest evidence yet that current vaccines can quell variants such as B.1.351. Clinical trials in South Africa — where B.1.351 was first identified — had suggested that vaccines would take a hit against such variants. But this study offers a fuller picture of what countries battling such variants can expect.

People in Qatar who received two doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine were 75% less likely to develop a case of COVID-19 caused by B.1.351 than were unvaccinated people, and had near-total protection from severe disease caused by that strain.

The findings — published on 5 May in The New England Journal of Medicine1 — suggest that current RNA vaccines are a potent weapon against the most worrisome immune-evading variants...

Weaker protection
Researchers in South Africa identified B.1.351 in late 2020, and it’s now the predominant strain there. Laboratory studies show that the variant harbours mutations that blunt the effects of virus-blocking antibodies, and trials suggest that some COVID-19 vaccines are significantly less effective against the strain than against others.

Early lab research suggested that RNA vaccines, including the Pfizer–BioNTech jab, would be weakened by B.1.351, but probably not fully compromised. In April, the companies announced that a small trial in South Africa had found the vaccine to be fully effective against B.1.351, but the study of 800 people recorded a total of just 6 infections caused by B.1.351 in the placebo group, so efficacy might have been much lower.

First evidence that COVID vaccines protect people against new variants

Abu-Raddad’s team analysed tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases that occurred between the start of Qatar’s vaccination campaign in late December and the end of March. Genome sequencing showed that B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 were the predominant coronavirus lineages during this period and, from mid-February, each accounted for about half of the country’s cases...

Qatar, where more than one-third of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, might provide an early glimpse at how the worst coronavirus variants can be controlled. Abu-Raddad says there is evidence that the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine might also be highly effective at blocking transmission of B.1.351. And after cases of the variant peaked in mid-April, he says, “things have been going extremely well, the numbers are going down very, very rapidly”.

Good news...

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Reply Data from Qatar: Pfizer COVID vaccine protects against worrying coronavirus variants (Original post)
NNadir May 9 OP
eppur_se_muova May 9 #1
NNadir May 9 #2

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun May 9, 2021, 09:47 AM

1. Good news indeed. nt

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #1)

Sun May 9, 2021, 09:53 AM

2. Better news is the ease with which this technology can be adapted for a case...

...where the existing vaccine is no longer effective.

As I understand it, for as much as I've looked into it, it basically involves small changes to a computer code, followed by scale up.

The scale up part is well understood now. We can do this.

With an intelligent population, we can beat this disease, to the extent that a subpopulation insists on a displaying a lack of intelligence, Darwin will offer a correction. Infection with this disease is something like polio; it involves long term effects, meaning that even if one refuses the vaccine, survives infection, one can expect reduced life expectancy, probably from cardiac disease.

Evolution at work, both viral and mammalian.

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