Study: Vaccines effective against variants B.1.617 and B.1.618

Pfizer and Biontech’s CoV vaccines, as well as Moderna, are likely to be highly effective against the two virus variants B.1.617 and B.1.618 that are prevalent in India, according to a U.S. study. “We found that the vaccine antibodies were a little bit weaker against the variants, but not so much that we think it would have a big impact on the protective capacity of the vaccines,” Nathaniel Landau, one of the study’s authors, told the AFP news agency yesterday.

The study by NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the NYU Langone Center has not yet been independently peer-reviewed by several experts in the field. Without such a peer-review process to ensure scientific quality, the study’s accuracy is still unclear and its validity is therefore limited.

For their study, the researchers took blood samples from vaccinated people and exposed them to artificially produced pseudovirus particles under laboratory conditions. According to Landau, the scientists found that the number of antibodies was lower in the Indian variants. “But there were enough that worked, so we believe the vaccines will be highly protective.”

First discovered in India, coronavirus variant B.1.617 has already spread to dozens of countries and every continent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The newer variant, B.1.618, has also already spread widely in India. WHO has classified B.1.617 as “of concern” because the variant may be more contagious and also less sensitive to antibodies.

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