2 vaccines in use will be effective against variant of COVID-19 identified in California, Duke finds

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Thursday, April 8, 2021
Duke study focuses on whether vaccines are effective against variants
Will your vaccine protect you from rapidly spreading COVID-19 variants? Duke researchers set out to answer that question.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Two of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the United States will be effective against a variant of the virus that was first identified in California, according to researchers at Duke Health.

Duke researchers tested blood serum samples of people who received the Moderna vaccine by introducing the COVID-19 variant. There was a slight decline in effectiveness, but the vaccine remained strongly protective.

"The good news is the California variant does not appear to be a problem for our current vaccines," said study author David Montefiori, Ph.D., professor and director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development in Duke's Department of Surgery. "That's important to know because this variant is now as prevalent in the U.S. as the U.K. variant, both of which appear to be more contagious."

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They published their findings as a research letter in the New England Journal of medicine on April 7.

Researchers did not test the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, they said the findings of such a test should be the same due to the similarities of the technology used in both vaccines.

Researchers did test a vaccine candidate from Novavax, which is expected to be considered for FDA authorization in the coming weeks. The Novavax vaccine also performed well against the California variant of COVID-19.

However, both Novavax and Moderna saw significant drops in effectiveness against the variant first identified in South Africa.

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