South Africa urged to monitor vaccines after Israeli study on Pfizer efficacy
The study found that coronavirus variant first discovered in SA can partially "break through" some of the protection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was conducted by Tel Aviv University and Israeli healthcare provider Clalit.
It found the prevalence of B.1.351 strain (also known as 501Y.V2) was about eight times higher among patients who received two doses of the vaccine than those who were unvaccinated.
However, experts have warned that the study may not be completely reliable.
The study's sample size of 400 is too small and the B.1.351 variant is very rare among the Israeli population. Therefore, it cannot be compared to the South African context.
University of Kwa-Zulu Natal professor Mosa Moshabela says the Israeli study has no significant impact on South Africa's plans to administer 20 million Pfizer doses.
However, he says local officials need to conduct ongoing effectiveness studies to monitor the performance of various vaccines.
We still believe that with the evidence we have overall, Pfizer is still a good option for South Africa but we have to put in place effectiveness studies.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
The numbers are too small there. Our numbers will allow us to do better statistical analysis.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Israel is not a really good place for us to be able to draw strong conclusions. The numbers that they are showing us are really small but they do indicate that we need to continue to observe how these vaccines perform in the real world outside of the clinical trials.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
We have the capacity to monitor the performance of these vaccines.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Earlier this month, Pfizer said that its vaccine was about 91% effective against Covid-19, slightly lower than the impressive 95% efficacy result reported in November.
According to new data, the shot was also 100% effective in preventing illness among 800 trial participants in SA.
On the 1st of April, we received a newsletter from Pfizer that showed that the 800 participants who were in South Africa showed nearly 100% efficacy of the vaccine for severe disease.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
It indicated that there was slightly reduced efficacy for the variant that's dominant here in South Africa.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
My view is that those [Pfizer] results are much more relevant to us at this point than what we are seeing in Israel.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
My view is that it doesn't actually change our position to this point.Prof Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation - University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Listen to the discussion on Early Breakfast with Africa Melane:
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