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Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine shown to be effective against new COVID-19 variants

Vaccine tested against variants discovered in the UK and South Africa

A new study from Pfizer and the University of Texas has shown that its BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants discovered in the UK and South Africa.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was conducted using blood samples from 20 trial participants who have already received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

It found that the vaccine was effective in neutralising the coronavirus strain with the N501Y mutation of the spike protein, as well as 15 additional mutations that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has already tested against.

Although the study is promising, it does not prove definitively that the vaccine will work against all mutations found within the UK and South African variants.

Philip Dormitzer, vice president and chief scientific officer, viral vaccines at Pfizer told Reuters: “We’ve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That’s the good news [but] that doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t.”

During a press conference in December 2020, BioNTech chief executive officer Ugur Sahin said that he is ‘confident’ that the vaccine will continue to work against the new UK strain.

Sahin added that the company could also modify the vaccine if it fails to protect against the new strain, by updating small sections of the messenger RNA (mRNA) used within the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Other COVID-19 vaccine developers, such as Moderna, have responded with similar confidence. Moderna previously told Bloomberg it expects its mRNA-based vaccine is likely to be effective against the new UK strain.

The company has already tested its vaccine against previous strains, adding that it believes that the vaccine would protect people against the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was recently discovered in the UK.

British pharma company AstraZeneca also told Reuters that its COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222, should be effective against the new UK variant.

The company is currently conducting studies to test the full impact of the mutation, which has now been detected in a number of countries.

Pfizer researchers now plan to conduct additional studies to evaluate its vaccine’s efficacy against further mutations found in both the UK and South Africa variants.

The new variants have raised concerns globally as they are believed to be more transmissible, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson having said that the UK variant could be up to 70% more transmissible.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

8th January 2021

From: Research

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