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‘Pfizer-BioNTech vax very effective against variants’

The Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine is highly effective against severe pneumonia and death caused by both UK-, South Africa-variants, results of twin studies have shown.

The studies, based on the real-world use of the vaccine in Qatar and Israel, suggested that the vaccine can prevent the worst outcomes caused by B117, the variant first identified in the UK, and B1351, first identified in South Africa, in young and old.

The first study, published in The Lancet, showed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine are highly effective against Covid-19 for all people over the age of 16 years, providing 95.3 percent protection against infection and 96.7 percent protection against death seven days after the second dose.

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Among people 85 or older, the vaccine was more than 94 percent effective at preventing infection, hospitalization, and death. The team from the Israel Ministry of Health used national pandemic surveillance data between January 24 and April 3. There were 232,268 confirmed Covid-19 infections in the country and the most prevalent strain was B117. It accounted for 94.5 percent of specimens tested.

The second study, appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, is based on information about more than 200,000 people from Qatar’s national Covid-19 databases between February 1 and March 31, the New York Times reported.

In multiple analyses, the researchers found that the vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection with B117 among people who were at least two weeks past their second shot. It was 72.1 to 75 percent effective at preventing infection with B1351 among those who had reached the two-week point, the report said.

The vaccine was highly effective at protecting against the worst outcomes. Overall, it was 97.4 percent effective at preventing the severe, critical, or fatal disease from any form of the coronavirus, and 100 percent effective at preventing severe, critical, or fatal disease caused by B117 or B1351.

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“This is really good news. At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” Annelies Wilder-Smith, an infectious disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was quoted as saying on Thursday.