News Release

Pfizer vaccine less effective against S. African variant, Ben-Gurion U. study finds

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, March 23, 2021 - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have found that the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine is moderately less effective against the South African variant, but still neutralizes the British variant and the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.

Their research was just published in the prestigious journal Cell Host and Microbe.

"Our findings show that future variants could necessitate a modified vaccine as the virus mutates to increase its infectivity," says principal investigator Dr. Ran Taube of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The BGU scientists evaluated the vaccine effectiveness against the original viral strain, the British and the South African variants, as well as strains that harbor combined changes in the viral spike.

Dr. Taube and his team also evaluated neutralizing antibody levels following administration of one and two vaccine doses. They found that vaccination provided optimal protection when compared with the levels observed in recovered patients. The researchers are continuing to test other circulating variants as they emerge, consisting of mutations that could possibly compromise the vaccine.


Additional researchers include first author Alona Kuzmina, a research investigator in Dr. Taube's lab, and collaborating investigators from Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva; Yara Khalaila, Olga Voloshin, Ayelet Keren-Naus, Liora Bohehem, Yael Raviv, Prof. Yonat Shemer-Avni, and Dr. Elli Rosenberg.

This study was supported by the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology grant no. 3-16897, the Israel Science Foundation grant application no. 755/17 and the BGU Covid-19 Research Taskforce.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU's academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU's main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion's vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today. For more information visit

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