Is it true that people who were vaccinated are MORE vulnerable to the South African variant of COVID-19 than unvaccinated people?
Find out what’s going on in the latest Israeli study, and what the FACTS really are!
Claim : Vaccinated People More Vulnerable To South African Variant!
This is the shocking claim, purportedly by a Singaporean doctor, and spurred by a ChannelNewsAsia article, that is going viral on WhatsApp :
No! Vaccinated People Are NOT More Vulnerable To South African Variant!
Like 95% of viral messages on COVID-19 – this is yet another piece of FAKE NEWS based on some facts.
Let’s examine each claim and find out what the facts really are!
Fact #1 : CNA Article Is Genuine, But…
The Channel News Asia article is genuine, and so are the quotes.
However, it appears they used the original Reuters almost ad verbatim, but “spiced up” the title – removing “but vaccine highly effective“.
They also replaced “the vaccine remains highly effective” with “the research has not been peer reviewed“.
Why would CNA do that? Why, CNA?
We should also point out that the proper naming for the South African variant is B.1.351, not B1351 as printed in the CNA article.
Fact #2 : Pfizer Vaccine Cannot Make You More Vulnerable
It is unlikely that the comment was written by any doctor, because no doctor would call the Pfizer vaccine an “antiCovid vaccine”.
In any case, the “logical conclusion” that the Pfizer vaccine would predispose those vaccinated to be “ravaged by the South African variant” is nonsensical.
COVID-19 vaccines are basically training bootcamps for your immune system. They mimic the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so your immune system can learn to identify and defeat it, before you get infected by the real virus.
At the very most, the vaccine is ineffective against a new variant, because it is so different that the “training” provided by the vaccine does not help.
However, it is impossible for any COVID-19 vaccine to actually make you more vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Fact #3 : Vaccinated People Are NOT More Vulnerable To South African Variant
The person who created this fake news shared that the “prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated – 5.4 per cent versus 0.7 per cent“.
Shocking, right? But the truth is that is a misunderstanding of what the study found.
The study, which you can read here, is called “Evidence for increased breakthrough rates of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in BNT162b2 mRNA vaccinated individual“.
Everyone in the study was already infected with COVID-19. The purpose of the study was to identify COVID-19 variants that could potentially “breakthrough” the Pfizer vaccine.
- They looked for 396 people who were infected after partial or full vaccination
a) Full effectiveness : 1 week or more after 2nd dose
b) Partial effectiveness : 2 weeks or more after 1st dose, or less than 1 week after 2nd dose
- They paired them with 396 people who were infected, but not vaccinated (as controls).
- They sequenced their viral genomes to determine the COVID-19 strains that infected them.
a) the vast majority of cases had the UK B.1.1.7 variant
b) only 1% of all cases had the South African B.1.351 variant
If the vaccine was equally effective on both variants, their prevalence would remain roughly the same whether the person was vaccinated or not.
But in the full effectiveness cohort, you can see that the B.1.351 variant has a markedly higher prevalence – 5.4% versus 0.7% in the control (unvaccinated).
That basically means that the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine is more effective against the UK B.1.1.7 variant, than it is against the South African B.1.351 variant.
You can “confirm” that by looking at the partial effectiveness cohort, where the prevalence of the B.1.351 variant was similar to that of the control.
What that means is when you are not fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, you are vulnerable to both the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.
But after you are fully vaccinated, you gain more protection against B.1.1.7, vis-à-vis the B.1.351 variant.
In short, the South African B.1.351 variant has a greater ability to “breakthrough” the Pfizer vaccine than the B.1.1.7 vaccine after you gain full protection.
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