The South African version of COVID-19 is more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, according to a study conducted by scientists at Tel Aviv University in conjunction with the Klalit Hospital Insurance fund (a network of clinics), the Times of Israel reports.
“The South African version of the coronavirus is noticeably more resistant to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than other variants, Israeli scientists have found in a first-of-its-kind study based on real data,” the publication says.
A team of experts from Tel Aviv University and the Klalit Health Insurance Fund examined the tests of 150 Israelis infected with COVID after being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The prevalence of the South African variant of the coronavirus among the vaccinated was eight times higher than among the unvaccinated population.
“Based on the prevalence of the strain in the general population, we could only expect one case of the South African variant, but we saw eight,” Professor Ady Stern, who led the study, said in an interview. She noted that the results show that the South African variant, compared to the original strain and the British variant, “can break through the protection of the vaccine.” However, according to the researcher, the sample is too small to evaluate its real properties.
Currently, the prevailing variant of the coronavirus, which causes most infections in Israel, is the British strain. The researchers note that the findings require more careful epidemiological monitoring to contain the spread of the South African version of the coronavirus in Israel.
Mass vaccination of the population against COVID-19 began in Israel on December 20 last year. Since January 10, the vaccinated began to receive a second dose. At the moment, the first dose was received by more than 5.3 million people, the second more than 4.9 million.