The news comes as reports of the variant, called B. 1.351, have escalated globally, including 13 cases in five states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the increased prevalence of the mutation, scientists have expressed concern that the variant, and two others first identified in the United Kingdom and Brazil, may become a predominant source of infection and elude coronavirus vaccines developed before the variants were detected.
Studies of the vaccines produced by drugmakers Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Novavax appeared to show that the vaccines work against the B. 1.351 variant but have a lowered effectiveness.
Maryland biotech company Novavax said that “data suggest that prior infection with COVID-19 may not completely protect against subsequent infection by the South Africa escape variant,” but that its vaccine “provided significant protection.”