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Monday, June 14, 2021

Pfizer, Moderna vaccines ‘likely effective’ against Indian Covid variant

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Study co-author Dr. Mehul Suthar says the latest findings highlight the need for expanding the global vaccination campaign.

Both of the Qatari approved mRNA Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been proven to be effective against the Indian coronavirus variant, according to laboratory experiments.

US researchers conducted a study to examine whether antibodies of those that have been vaccinated or previously contracted Covid-19 are capable of eliminating the risk of infection of the newly emerged Indian variant.

The team introduced the variant, known as B.1.617.1, to blood serum samples from 15 volunteers with antibodies induced by the Moderna vaccine, 10 volunteers with antibodies after receiving the full dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and 24 people with antibodies after recovering from previous infection.

In the research report published last week on bioRxiv ahead of peer review, the team found the new deadly variant to be 6.8-fold more resistant to antibody neutralisation in all three experiments.

Some 79% of samples from previously infected individuals, and all blood samples from vaccinated individuals, successfully blocked the Indian virus variant. 

This indicates that only about 20% of samples from previously infected individuals couldn’t block the Indian variant, whereas the vast majority succeeded in fighting the infection. 

The samples of those previously infected were collected about one to three months after they recovered from Covid-19 symptoms, and the samples from vaccinated individuals were collected about 20 to 50 days post-second dose of mRNA vaccine, researchers at Emory University, which conducted the study at the University of Stanford and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said.

“This suggests that protective immunity by the mRNA vaccines tested here are likely retained against the B.1.617.1 variant,” the study reads. “As the B.1.617.1 variant continues to evolve, it will be important to monitor how additional mutations within the spike impact antibody resistance, viral transmission and vaccine efficacy,” the study found.

The findings point out that the vaccines are highly effective against the Indian strain, which has recently been categorised as the Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, researchers said the variant may continue to evolve and it remains essential to monitor how additional mutations may impact vaccine efficacy. 

“Despite this, a majority of the sera from convalescent individuals and all sera from vaccinated individuals were still able to neutralize the B.1.617.1 variant,” the team said.

Though the variant is rapidly spreading in several countries, it has yet to be confirmed in Qatar.

Read also: Children aged 12 to 15 can now take Covid-19 vaccine in Qatar

Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) had previously confirmed that the deadly strain of the coronavirus has not reached Qatar thanks to quick action by authorities.

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday approved emergency use of the Pfzer vaccine for 12 to 15 year-old children.

This came a week after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s request for the emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine on kids aged twelve and above.

Studies proved safety of vaccines for adolescents, with results showing no symptomatic infections among vaccinated children among the aforementioned age range.

According to the findings, the shot appeared to be extremely effective on kids. Pfizer said children produced “strong antibodies” and experienced no serious side effects.

Currently, Qatar has recorded 5,157 active cases as well as 532 total deaths.


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