The fight against COVID-19 is far from over going by the rate at which the virus is mutating, giving rise to variants showing strong resistance vaccines already in circulation. A new study has once again cast doubts over Pfizer’s Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA)’s COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in combating a deadly variant found in South Africa.
South Africa Covid Variant
According to the study, the percentage of antibodies created by Moderna’s vaccine to neutralize the South African variant B.1.351 was 12.4 times lower than the original coronavirus. Likewise, the Pfizer vaccine was 10.3 times lower in neutralizing the new variant than the original variant on which it was tested.
First detected in South African the variant B.1.351 has already found its way into 20 states in the US, with more than 80 cases already reported. The development raises serious concerns about whether the vaccines have what it takes to bring the pandemic under control once and for all.
Vaccines failing to generate the required antibodies to combat the virus will significantly jeopardize the push to keep infection rates low. Likewise, it raises serious questions about whether there will ever be a vaccine capable of combating any variant.
Johnson & Johnson Shot
While the Moderna and the Pfizer shots appear to be struggling against the South African variant, the Johnson & Johnson shot is now available in San Diego. The vaccine is being distributed the same way as the other two.
However, the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) vaccine is already facing some resistance, given that it was 72% effective in research trials in the US. Given that Moderna and Pfizer shots’ posted efficacy levels of more than 90% raise serious questions about the Johnson shot effectiveness.
Health officials have been forced into a PR drive reiterating that the Johnson & Johnson shot is as effective as the rest approved for emergency use. However, it is still unclear as to whether it is well suited at handling the South African coronavirus variant.