How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work against the B.1.1.7 variant?

The B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2, originally discovered in the United Kingdom last fall, was recently detected in our local community. B.1.1.7 spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, and to help mitigate the impact of transmission in our campus communities, Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to sign up and get a vaccine as soon as they are eligible to receive one. 

“This is absolutely a more transmissible variant,” said Matthew Ferrari, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics and associate professor of biology said in a recent livestreamed event alongside local State College leaders. “It is indeed 30% to 50% more transmissible than the original variant. This variant does also increase the likelihood of severe disease and mortality if infected.”

Fortunately, Ferrari emphasized, all three vaccines that are available in the United States — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are effective against the B.1.1.7 variant. Therefore, he said, “We should all get the first vaccine that is available to us and continue to follow public health guidance by masking, physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings, especially those that are indoors. 

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Last Updated August 11, 2021