In a new study from Duke Health, researchers found that two different COVID vaccines can be protective against a rapidly spreading variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus that arose in California.
However, the vaccines were found to be less effective against a variant that first emerged in South Africa.
In the study, the team tested blood serum samples from people who had received either the Moderna vaccine or a vaccine candidate from Novovax that is yet to be authorized in the U.S.
When the California variant was exposed to the serum of people who received both required doses of the Moderna vaccine, a small decline in effectiveness occurred, but the vaccine remained strongly protective.
The researchers did not test the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but they inferred that the findings for the Moderna vaccine would be comparable due to the similarities of the technology used in the two vaccines.
A vaccine candidate from Novovax—which is expected to be considered for FDA authorization in upcoming weeks—also performed well in the researchers’ tests against the variant that arose in California, which has spread rapidly throughout the United States and 25 other countries.
Both vaccines, however, saw big drops in the effectiveness against the variant first identified in South Africa, which remains a worrisome form of the virus.
The team says the good news is the California variant does not appear to be a problem for the current vaccines.
That’s important to know because this variant is now as prevalent in the U.S. as the U.K. variant, both of which appear to be more contagious.
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The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author of the study is David Montefiori, Ph.D.
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