A Phase I/IIb study showing that AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine had only 10.4% efficacy against mild-to-moderate infections caused by the B.1.351 South Africa variant has been published in the NEJM, reported Forbes.
According to the news source, the finding should force a rapid acceleration of second-generation vaccines and encourage further research into the possibility of a pancoronavirus vaccine.
The trial evaluated the AstraZeneca vaccine in HIV-negative adults aged between 18 to 64 years old, and was conducted between June 24 and November 9, 2020 in South Africa.
Out of the trial's 750 vaccine recipients, 2.5% developed mild-to-moderate COVID-19 more than 14 days after the second dose, compared with 3.2% of placebo recipients. Of the 42 total cases of COVID-19, 93% were caused by the B.1.351 strain.
The variant shares similar mutations with several others. Mutations to positions 417 (K417N), 484 (E484K), and 501 (N501Y) are all located in the receptor-binding domain.
The K417N and E484K mutations have been seen in the Brazilian and Japanese variants, and N501Y has additionally been seen in the UK variant, the news source noted.
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