And so, just as we all begin to believe that we are sliding into the end of the coronavirus pandemic, some new challenge arrives to make us wonder whether or not we are ever going to escape this perpetual, viral hell.
This week, the uncomfortable angst is courtesy of a South African variant of the virus that appears to be impervious to at least the Pfizer vaccine.
The South African variant of the coronavirus is notably more adept at “breaking through” the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than other variants are, Israeli scientists have found, in a first-of-its-kind real-world study.
Israel has used the Pfizer vaccine almost exclusively to vaccinate millions of citizens, with a version by Moderna, based on similar innovative mRNA technology, used minimally.
A team from Tel Aviv University and the Clalit healthcare organization sequenced the swabs of 150 Israelis who tested positive for COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated.
The data was telling.
In their study, the prevalence of the South African strain among vaccinated individuals who were infected despite their inoculation was eight times higher than its prevalence in the unvaccinated infected population. Though the number of such infections among the vaccinated was relatively small, the findings indicated that this variant was far more successful in getting through vaccinated individuals’ defenses than other strains.
“Based on patterns in the general population, we would have expected just one case of the South African variant, but we saw eight,” Prof. Adi Stern, who headed the research, told The Times of Israel. “Obviously, this result didn’t make me happy.”
In a majority of other cases, variants of the COVID-19 virus appeared to be impaired by the common available vaccines, which does give the world some hope that our current path could lead us back to normalcy.
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