Amid fear over the new COVID-19 strain, a new research suggests Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine can protect against the mutation. The new variants, which have raised alarms across the globe, were found in Britain and South Africa.
According to a report by Reuters, the laboratory study was conducted by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech seems effective in neutralising mutation in UK variant coronavirus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein.
Most of the vaccines being rolled out around the world train the body to recognize that spike protein and fight it. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected the vaccine's ability to do so.
They used blood samples from 20 people, who received the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Antibodies from the vaccinated recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers.
“It is encouraging,” Reuters quoted Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists, as saying. “The vaccine appears effective against the mutation, as well as 15 other mutations the company has previously tested against,” he further added. “So we’ve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That’s the good news,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t.”
Dormitzer noted another mutation found in the South African variant, called the E484K mutation, which is also becoming a cause of concern. The researchers plan to run similar tests to see if the vaccine is effective against other mutations found in the UK and South African variants and hope to have more data within weeks.
The presence of the new United Kingdom variant of the virus has already been reported by several countries, including India, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, and Singapore.
(Inputs from Agencies)