The South African variant of the coronavirus is more able to "
" the defenses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine than other forms of the virus, researchers who carried out a study in Israel told AFP on Sunday.
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This study conducted by Tel Aviv University and Clalit, the country's main health insurance fund, compared 400 unvaccinated people who contracted Covid-19 to 400 other partially or fully vaccinated people who also contracted it.
The Hebrew state immunizes its population with the vaccine of the American-German duo.
According to this study published Saturday but not yet peer reviewed, less than 1% of contaminations in Israel are due to the South African variant.
But among the 150 people who received the two necessary doses of the vaccine, "
the prevalence rate (of the South African variant) was eight times higher than in unvaccinated people
," the study said.
This means that the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine, although extremely protective, probably does not offer the same level of protection against the South African variant of the coronavirus
" as against other forms of the virus, the study notes.
The South African variant is able, to a certain extent, to cross the protection of the vaccine,
" Adi Stern, professor at Tel Aviv University and co-author of the study, told AFP.
But given the "
very small number of vaccinated people infected
" by the South African variant - eight - it is "
", she said.
Two studies published in February in the
New England Journal of Medicine
, conducted by the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna laboratories, showed a lower presence of antibodies after vaccination in people infected with the South African variant, indicating reduced protection.
The Israeli study is the first to assess the ability of the South African variant to bypass the vaccine.
According to Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer at Clalit and one of the study's authors, these findings could help states on how best to ease restrictions.
Combining vaccines, mask wear and other measures "
very likely prevents variants of the virus, including the South African, from spreading
" even though the latter apparently has the ability to thwart the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine, a- he told AFP.
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Israel, which has recorded 835,900 patients including 6,296 deaths, has observed a decline in the epidemic for several weeks thanks in particular to a vast vaccination campaign started on December 19.
More than half (53%) of the 9.2 million people received both doses of the vaccine.
A study of 1.2 million people in Israel found it to be 94% effective.