Real-world data shows vaccines kicking butt—including against scary variant


In a small trial, the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine fully protected people from symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the worrisome B.1.351 coronavirus variant widely circulating in South Africa, the companies announced in a press release.

Though researchers will need more data to confirm the result, it is just the latest bit of positive news to come out this week about how the vaccines are performing with real-world conditions and in real-world settings.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released real-world data showing that the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine and Moderna mRNA vaccine were, collectively, 90 percent effective at preventing infections in fully vaccinated health care, frontline, and essential workers.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNtech announced that their vaccine is highly effective in adolescents 12- to 15-years old—not just the adult part of the population. And on Thursday, the companies announced the B.1.351 news as well as new data on durability. That is, the latest monitoring data on people vaccinated in a Phase III trial suggests the vaccine is still 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease up to six months after the second dose. That’s longer efficacy than was previously established, but researchers will need more data still to assess efficacy beyond six months.

“The bottom line message is that vaccines work very well in the real-world setting,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a White House COVID-19 press briefing Friday. “They work against variants, although we need further data to confirm that. They are durable for at least six months and they work in adolescents. Very, very good reason for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as its becomes available to you.”