The South African mutant variant of Covid-19 may ‘break through’ Pfizer’s jab, study finds.
Scientists studied 400 people who tested positive for the coronavirus at least 14 days after receiving one or two doses of the vaccine – and 400 who tested positive without the vaccine.
The variant was eight times more common among those who had had two strokes than none. It was seen in 5.4% of people with two doses – but 0.7% of people without either.
Scientists working on the Tel Aviv University study said their results suggest that the South African variant cannot be combated with the vaccine as well as others.
The South African strain – called B.1.351 – has key mutations on its spike protein that scientists say could make it difficult for the immune system to recognize.
These changes open the door to its resistance to vaccines, which cause the body to spot the spike protein, or to natural immunity against a previous infection.
Tel Aviv University researcher Adi Stern told ABC News: “We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. “
But scientists pointed out that of the 800 people examined, the South African variant of Covid was detected in only 1% of positive tests because there are few cases of the South African variant in Israel.
British medical regulators this week concluded that the AstraZeneca vaccine was a “reasonably plausible” cause of 79 cases of unusual blood clots, including 19 deaths.
The NHS has now canceled thousands of appointments for people aged 18-29 who were booked to receive their first dose of the Oxford jab.
Most people under 30 are not yet eligible, but those who are, such as unpaid caregivers, will receive a new Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Last month, Matt Hancock sensationally said that the South African variant could make the current crop of vaccines 50% less efficient.
The South African strain – called B.1.351 – has key mutations on its spike protein that have scientists worrying that the immune system has trouble recognizing.
North Shields key worker Mark Reid receives Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at mass vaccination center in Newcastle
In images obtained by MailOnline, the Health Secretary warned that allowing the variant to become the dominant strain in the UK could ruin the UK vaccination campaign and send the country ‘back to square one’.
Mr Hancock reportedly made the astonishing comments during an online webinar with travel agents, much to the shock of everyone on the call.
He said there was “evidence in the public domain” that the South African variant reduced the effectiveness of the vaccine “by about 50 percent”. Although he went on to say, “We’re not sure about this data, so I wouldn’t say that in public. “
South African scientists found that 48% of blood samples from people who had been infected in the past showed no immune response to the new variant – raising red flags about possible vaccine resistance.
The South African version is also be at least 60% more infectious than regular Covid and even more transmissible than the Kent variant which has torn the UK apart and plunged England into its third national lockdown.
In images obtained by MailOnline, Health Secretary Matt Hancock sensationally said the mutant variant of the South African coronavirus made the current crop of vaccines 50% less efficient
Mr Hancock’s web chat video surfaced on a private Facebook page for travel agents.
Speaking about the possibility of summer vacation being scheduled this year, Mr Hancock said: ‘Last year travel restrictions were mostly based on the number of cases. When an area had a low number of cases, then traveling was fine.
“The complication we have now is that the new vaccine makes things better here, but the new variants put that at risk.
“Because if you have a variant that circumvents the vaccine – and there’s evidence in the public domain, although we’re not sure about that data, so I wouldn’t say that in public – that the South African variant reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine by about 50%.
“We are testing this, we have part of the South African variant at Porton Down [a Public Health England laboratory] and we test it. And we have a clinical trial in South Africa to verify how the AstraZeneca vaccine works.
“However, if you vaccinate the entire population and then get a new variant that escapes the vaccine, you will be back to square one.
“And tougher international restrictions are the price that, for example, Australia has paid for stronger national protection, as in more life to get back to normal at the national level.”
MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health for comment.