COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna appear to offer significantly less antibody protection against the highly-contagious variant that emerged in South Africa, new studies show.
The studies, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that both vaccines elicited much lower levels of neutralizing antibodies against the new strain, compared to the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus.
For the Pfizer study, scientists developed an engineered virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the South African variant, known as B.1.351.
Researchers tested the engineered virus against blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine.
They determined there was a two-thirds reduction in the level of neutralizing antibodies compared to how it performed with the most prevalent version of the virus in US trials.
The Moderna vaccine may offer less antibody protection against the highly contagious South African strain of COVID-19.JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images
However, it’s unclear if reduced antibody response will