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Here's How Today's Vaccines Are Holding Up to Strains Right Now

By Adria Cimino - Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 8:12AM

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Real-world data has started to roll in.

In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on March 26, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss how the Pfizer (PFE 3.59%), Moderna (MRNA -4.97%), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 1.75%) vaccines are handling variants of concern -- and how widespread the variants are in the U.S. right now.

Corinne Cardina: Let's talk about the variants. So, there's a lot of concern about a couple of different variant strains that are circulating. A lot of them are more contagious, more transmissible. How are the vaccines that we currently have authorized standing up to the variants and how is the spread affecting the COVID landscape in the U.S.?

Adria Cimino: We're getting some real-world data now. We have some data from Israel on the Pfizer vaccine, for instance, and that's showing 97% effective against symptomatic disease, severe disease, and death. So that's pretty high -- and that's with the U.K. strain being predominant over there. Pfizer is less effective against the South African strain with what we're seeing so far. But so far it's pretty good against the U.K. and the original coronavirus. Now, as far as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they did one of their clinical trials in South Africa. It's 64% effective against the South African strain, against moderate to severe disease. From Moderna, we have the in-vitro testing they did against strains and that's showing that it can handle the strains. Some of the efficacy might go down a little bit, but it can handle it. And also Moderna is working on boosters. Trials have already started on those. So, they're moving ahead aggressively. As far as the strains, the numbers are moving up, but they're not a huge problem yet. I will give you a few numbers to look at. We have about 8,000 cases of the U.K. variant reported -- cases in the U.S. -- 200 cases of the South African and 79 of Brazil. And those are cases that were reported. Of course, there could still be some other cases that haven't been reported. Michigan and Florida are most heavily hit by these strains. But we have to keep this in perspective. We're seeing the seven-day average of cases is 53,200. Again, with that, we are seeing that the strains, so far, are under control and we're doing pretty well with the vaccination. That number, that 53,200 is down 78% from a peak in January, so we are making some great progress.

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Stocks Mentioned

Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$136.25 (-4.97%) $-7.13
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$52.47 (3.59%) $1.82
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$176.98 (1.75%) $3.04

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