SÃO PAULO – As an aggressive strain of coronavirus from the Amazon ravages Brazil, a preliminary study has provided the first evidence that the country’s main vaccine, China’s CoronaVac, may not be as effective against it.
The small-scale study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, comes as doctors warn of a humanitarian catastrophe in Brazil in the coming weeks, with deaths spike as the disease overwhelms hospitals across the world. country.
Researchers from Brazil, the UK and the US found that plasma from eight people vaccinated five months ago with CoronaVac “failed to efficiently neutralize” the new Amazonian strain, called P.1. The study did not show whether CoronaVac can still prevent people from getting sick from the variant, one of the main goals of vaccination campaigns.
While the study sample size was small and requires further testing, the fact that all eight samples produced the same result is a “remarkable phenomenon”, suggesting that CoronaVac is less capable of thwarting P.1 infections. than versions of the virus previously found in Brazil, said William de Souza, from the University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Prêto, one of the study’s authors.
Sinovac, the Chinese firm that makes CoronaVac, did not respond to requests for comment. In an interview with state broadcaster CGTN that Sinovac published this week, CEO Yin Weidong said it would take less time to develop a vaccine for the variants if necessary than from scratch.