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Efficacy Worries Emerge With Variants

The Los Angeles Times writes that new data are raising worries about vaccine efficacy against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.

It adds that Novavax and Johnson & Johnson reported results from their Phase 3 trials last week and while the companies reported overall efficacy rates of 90 percent and 66 percent for their vaccines, respectively, they also noted a dip in the candidate vaccines' efficacy rate when faced with recently identified SARS-CoV-2 strains, including one identified in South Africa. For instance, Novavax reported an efficacy rate of 49.4 percent among its South African cohort and J&J reported one of 57 percent in its South African cohort.

Previously, the LA Times notes that other vaccine-makers like Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech had tested their vaccines against these new variants in the lab, but that these new results are a real-world analysis. "Whether people who have been vaccinated get infected with the variant — that's the real proof in the pudding," Otto Yang, an infectious-disease researcher from the University of California, Los Angeles, tells it.

This, it adds, underscores the need for vaccination. "Vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly as we can" can slow the development of viral mutations, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a press briefing, according to the LA Times. "Viruses cannot mutate if they cannot replicate."