Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effective against coronavirus variants, study finds

Israel Ministry of Health study shows promising results for Pfizer/BioNtech against coronavirus variants

A new COVID-19 vaccine study out of Israel claims the Pfizer jabs are effective against variants, according to a new study published in a medical journal.

Two shots of Pfizer/BioNtech's vaccine delivered more than 95% protection from infection, severe illness and death, the Israel Ministry of Health reported in The Lancet.


"Two doses of BNT162b2 are highly effective across all age groups in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19-related hospitalizations, severe disease, and death, including those caused by the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant," the study said.

B.1.1.7 is known as the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The study added the Pfizer vaccine provided 95.3% protection against infection and 96.7% protection against death seven days after the second dose.

Full vaccination mattered as one dose alone gave just 57.7% protection against infection, 75.7% against hospitalization, and 77% against death.

"By 14 days after vaccination, protections conferred by a second dose increased to 96.5% protection against infection, 98% against hospitalization, and 98.1% against death," the study said. 

As of May 5, in Israel, 5.41 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 62.55% relative to the population; 5.07 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 58.56% relative to the population.

In terms of countries with the highest percentages of populations vaccinated, Israel ranks as number 3. According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Israel's vaccinated population is at 55.99% of the total population. Gibraltar is number 1 at 99.73%; Seychelles is number 2 at 61.13%; the United States is number 10 at 30.58%. Other countries in the top 10: the Cayman Islands, the United Arab Emirates, Bermuda, Chile, Bahrain, and San Marino.


A study out of Qatar checked if Pfizer's vaccine there worked against B.1.351 – first seen in South Africa -- and B.1.1.7 variants. 

"The estimated effectiveness of the vaccine against any documented infection with the B.1.1.7 variant was 89.5% at 14 or more days after the second dose. The effectiveness against any documented infection with the B.1.351 variant was 75%," the researchers wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.


Two of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine booster shots under study induced an immune response against SARS-CoV-2 and variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil, the company announced Wednesday. 

A variant-specific booster shot resulted in higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against the concerning South African variant with fewer side effects than a third shot of the original vaccine.

The early findings stem from a Phase 2 trial, administering a 50 µg dose of mRNA-1273 or the variant-specific shot, mRNA-1273.351, given as a booster to previously vaccinated individuals. Another vaccine under study involves a "50-50 mix" of the previously authorized vaccine and the variant-specific booster shot in a single vaccine.