The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides 33% protection against the coronavirus' omicron variant, said the results of a study done in South Africa released on Tuesday.
The protection from two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, reaching as high as 80% against the delta variant, fell to 33% against the omicron strain, said the study by Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest health insurance provider.
The vaccine also proved 70% effective in preventing hospitalizations due to the recently emerged strain, versus around 90% for delta variant, said the study of 78,000 patients done this November and December.
However, Discovery CEO Ryan Noach said patients infected with the omicron variant showed far milder symptoms than other variants of COVID-19.
Noach underlined that most of the patients hospitalized due to infection with the omicron strain were unvaccinated.
Glenda Gray, head of the South African Medical Research Council, said despite the relatively low protection rate, vaccination is important for preventing the hospitalization of people who get the omicron variant.
She added that the results of the study are encouraging in the fight against the virus in South Africa, where the omicron strain was first detected and is currently the dominant variant.