Study: Vaccines effective against some COVID variants

New reports show the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can protect patients from the U.K. strain of the coronavirus, while it's less effective against the South Africa variant.

A pair of new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine have some good news and some not as good news.

The good news is that the two COVID-19 vaccines – one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech; another by Moderna – appear to be highly effective against a variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the U.K. The B.1.1.7 strain is thought to be 50% more contagious than dominant strains in the U.S.

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The not so good news is that the vaccines aren’t quite as useful in the fight against another highly contagious variant – one that emerged in South Africa.

In one study, a team tested genetically engineered versions of the virus variants against blood samples taken from people who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Another did similar tests with Moderna’s vaccine. Both showed antibody activity against the virus. The response to the South Africa variant was diminished, though still effective.

Following publication of the reports, Pfizer representatives said the company is working to develop an updated vaccine that will take new variants into account.

So far, 157 people in Michigan have tested positive for the U.K. variant of the coronavirus. Four of those people are in Kalamazoo County.

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