According to a new letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech is 92.6 percent effective after just one out of two doses.
The results from the lab trial have significant implications. Thanks to a highly protective first dose, it strongly suggests that countries are able to safely delay giving out second doses to ensure that first responders, health practitioners, and those in higher age groups are able to get at least one dose.
"There may be uncertainty about the duration of protection with a single dose, but the administration of a second dose within 1 month after the first, as recommended, provides little added benefit in the short term, while high-risk persons who could have received a first dose with that vaccine supply are left completely unprotected," the letter reads.
That's especially relevant given that vaccines have been in short supply, causing countries around the world to delay vaccination efforts.
A separate report, also published in the New England Journal, suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is effective against new coronavirus variants, including the deadly South African variant B1351.
That's great news, as previous reports suggested that the variant managed to escape protection from several vaccines, most notably the one produced by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. A recent trial suggests that the Oxford vaccine only offers as little as ten percent protection against the South African variant.
A third, separately published letter in the same journal, suggested that the vaccine manufactured by Moderna also is effective against the new variants, including B1351.
Experts, however, [commas help this breathe] noted that blood samples managed to produce less neutralizing antibody activity when tested against the South African variant. Luckily, this reduction was still enough to neutralize the virus, according to the letters.
The findings are even more evidence that mRNA-based vaccines such as the ones manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna are able to take on new highly transmissible and sometimes deadly variants of the coronavirus.
Despite their newly found efficacy, getting even a single dose in the arms of every American will remain to be a massive challenge. The faster we can act, the better a shot we have at pushing back against the pandemic.
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READ MORE: Researchers urge delaying Pfizer vaccine's second dose as first highly effective [Reuters]