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BioNTech-Pfizer COVID vaccine effective against 2 variants

February 8, 2021

A lab study has found the vaccine effective against UK and South Africa variants. German Health Minister Jens Spahn has voiced his confidence in the EU's three approved vaccines.

Healthworker draws syringe full of BioNTech- Pfizer vaccine
The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is effective against current mutations but the companies are watching for further variantsImage: Lee Smith/REUTERS

A peer review has confirmed that the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is effective against two variants of the coronavirus, the companies announced on Monday.

The review, which was published in the journal Nature Medicine, backed the results of a study completed by Pfizer and the University of Texas in late January.

When the study was originally released, BioNTech and Pfizer said its finding suggested that no new vaccine would be necessary to fight coronavirus mutations first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Nevertheless, the continuous transformation of the deadly virus makes clinical data and constant observation imperative. Experts say that it is not a foregone conclusion that vaccines currently in use will remain effective against possible new variants of the virus in the future.

Coronavirus death rate soars in Germany’s Saxony

Spahn voices confidence in vaccines

On Monday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn voiced confidence in the effectiveness of all three vaccines approved by the European Union. It followed the South African government's announcement that it would suspend its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

South Africa justified the decision by pointing to the vaccine's low effectiveness against mild and moderate infection stemming from the B.1351 variant, which is currently dominant in the country. Spahn emphasized that the three EU-approved vaccines exhibited high efficacy against serious infection.

S. Africa vaccination campaign

Germany changes policy to avoid waste

Spahn also announced a change in Germany's vaccination policy. Individuals such as healthcare workers and emergency service personnel would be allowed to jump line and get shots sooner than expected in an effort to avoid wasting vaccines that have already been opened and must either be used or discarded at the end of each day.

The minister, however, urged those "who have political responsibility to set a good example," by patiently waiting their turn. The statement came in light of news that some individuals had used the power of their positions to get vaccinations despite being in non-risk groups.

Spahn maintained that teachers and students would remain low on the list despite talk of reopening schools, emphasizing that those most in need — those over 80, as well as those working and living in nursing homes — would remain at the front of the line.

js/rt (AFP, Reuters)