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Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine found to be effective against UK virus variant

BioNTech is planning to publish analysis on vaccine's efficacy against South African variant

New results from a laboratory study of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine have found that the vaccine should protect immunised individuals against the new coronavirus strain first identified in the UK.

The study – published on the preprint server bioRxiv – used the blood of 16 participants in Pfizer/BioNTech’s previously reported phase 1/2 trial of BNT162b2 to test for neutralisation of both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus strain and the new SARS-CoV-2 lineage identified in the UK – known as B.1.1.7.

The researchers used synthetic versions of both virus strains – the B.1.1.7 lineage strain contained ten mutations that had been found in the UK variant.

Results from this study found that participants who had received the vaccine were able to produce antibodies that neutralised the new virus strain, meaning that “it is very unlikely that the UK variant viruses will escape BNT162b2-mediated protection”.

Further research will confirm the early findings of this study, the researchers added.

In a statement, the companies also reiterated their confidence in the flexibility of BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine technology to adapt BNT162b2 to any potential new virus strains, if needed.

BioNTech is also planning to publish an additional analysis of the vaccine's efficacy against another coronavirus strain identified in South Africa.

Earlier this month, a study from Pfizer and the University of Texas demonstrated that the BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be effective against the N501Y mutation found in both the UK and South African variants.

The study was conducted using blood samples from 20 trial participants who had 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 been tested against.

Other COVID-19 developers have also remained confident that their own vaccines will work against the new strains.

This includes Moderna, and the company previously told Bloomberg it expects its mRNA-based vaccine is likely to be effective against the new UK strain.

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.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

21st January 2021

From: Research

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