- Daily Zen
Scientists used blood samples from 20 people who received the Pfizer vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large study of shots.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech appears to work against one of the most infectious mutations in the highly transmissible variants of coronavirus discovered in the U.K. and South Africa, according to a laboratory study.
New research suggests that the Pfizer vaccine has been effective against the N501Y mutation of the novel coronavirus. The study has been conducted by Pfizer along with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine ‘BNT162b2’ has worked against 16 different virus mutations. “So we’ve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That’s the good news. That doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t,” said Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists.
The not-yet peer reviewed study was conducted on blood samples taken from people who had been given the Pfizer vaccine. Its findings are limited as it does not look at the full set of mutations found in either of the new variants of the rapidly developing novel coronavirus.
The researchers plan to run similar tests to see if the vaccine is effective against other coronavirus variants and mutations found in the U.K. and South Africa and hope to have more data within weeks.
Dormitzer noted another mutation found in the South African COVID variant to be dangerous. It may reduce the ability of antibodies to bind the virus and could make Pfizer’s BNT162b2 less effective.
If the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs tweaking, the new recipe wouldn’t be difficult to develop for Pfizer’s BNT162b2 shot and similar ones. The COVID-19 vaccine is made using a piece of the virus genetic code which is pretty simple to switch. It’s unclear what kind of additional testing FDA made require to make the new recipe.
Dormitzer said this is only the beginning of “ongoing monitoring of virus changes to see if any of them might impact on vaccine coverage.”
Scientists have expressed concern that FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines may still not be able to protect against the new variants, particularly the virus variant found in South Africa.
The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and the one from Moderna Inc. which use synthetic messenger RNA technology can be quickly tweaked to address new virus mutations if necessary. Scientists have suggested the changes could be made within six weeks.
Drugmakers are keen to test their COVID-19 vaccines against the new variants of the coronavirus that are spreading fast.
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