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BNT162b2 Vaccination efficacy is marginally affected by the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant in fully vaccinated individuals.

By Amit Huppert, Orna Mor, Neta S Zuckerman, Itay Hazan, Ronen Fluss, Nachman Ash, Netanel Ginish, Ella Mendelson, Sharon Alroy-Price, Laurence S Freedman

Posted 23 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.20.21260833

Background Israeli has vaccinated over 80% of its adult population, with two doses of the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine. This intervention has been highly successful in curtailing the coronavirus 2 outbreak. One major concern is the ability of the virus to mutate which potentially can cause SARS-CoV-2 to partially escape from the immune system. Here we evaluate the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against the B.1.351 variant. Methods The Ministry of Health, initiated sequencing of selected positive swab samples identified as being of interest. We used logistic regression, with variant type as the dependent variable, vaccination status as the main explanatory variable, controlling for age, sex, subpopulation, place of residence and time of sample, to estimate the odds ratio for a vaccinated case to have the B. 1.351 versus the B.1.1.7 variant, within vaccinated and unvaccinated persons who tested positive. Findings There were 19 cases of B.1.351 variant (3.2%) among those vaccinated more than 14 days before the positive sample and 88 (3.5%) among the unvaccinated. The estimated odds ratio was 1.29 [95% CI: 0.66-2.50]. From this result, assuming the efficacy against the B.1.1.7 variant to be 95%, the estimated efficacy against the B.1.351 variant was 94% [95% CI: 87-97%]. Interpretation Despite the concerns caused by the B.1.351 variant, the BNT162b2 vaccine seems to provide substantial immunity against both that variant and the B.1.1.7. Our results suggest that from 14 days following the second vaccine dose the efficacy of BNT162b2 vaccine is at most marginally affected by the B.1.351 variant. Funding No funding

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