ThePfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccineis extraordinarily effective at protecting against severe disease caused by two dangerous variants, according to two studies published Wednesday.
The studies, which are based on the real-world use of the vaccine in Qatar and Israel, suggest that the vaccine can prevent the worst outcomes — including severe pneumonia and death — caused byB.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the U.K., andB.1.351, the variant first identified in South Africa.
“This is really good news,” said Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, an infectious disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “At this point in time we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern.”
Previous research suggested that B.1.1.7 is more infectious and more deadly than other variants, but that vaccines still worked well against it. But vaccinesappeared to be less effectiveagainst B.1.351, according to earlier studies