A study by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) And BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) researchers has established that their COVID-19 vaccine is effective against a mutation in highly transmissible new coronavirus variants discovered in South Africa and the UK.
Study shows Pfizer vaccines effective against mutations
Scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch conducted the research. Results indicated that individuals that had received the vaccine produced antibodies that effectively neutralized a key mutation in two highly contagious coronavirus variants. The vaccine neutralized the N501Y mutation of the spike protein in the vaccinated individuals. The in vitro study used blood from individuals that had received the vaccine and results were published on preprint server bioRXlv on Thursday and it’s yet to be reviewed.
The N501Y mutation is responsible for transmissibility with concerns that it can make the virus escape antibody neutralization produced by the vaccine. However, the findings from the research are limited since they have not tackled all the mutations found in the new strains of the quickly spreading virus. But researchers were delighted by the effectiveness of the vaccine against N501Y mutations as well as 16 other previously tested mutations.
Pfizer’s viral vaccine scientist, Philip Dormitzer said that they have tested 16 different mutations and none had a significant impact against their vaccines which is good news. However, that doesn’t imply that the 17th won’t. Dormitzer said that the new mutation called E484K that was found in South Africa is equally concerning. Researchers will run more tests to establish if the vaccine is effective against the mutations in the South African and UK strains in the coming weeks.
Pfizer vaccines can be altered to address mutations
On Friday BioNTech said that there was a need or more data to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines against new virus strains. According to the company, they would be able to adjust the vaccine should the vaccine mutate to the level it needs change to offer protection. Since the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine uses synthetic messenger RNA tech, they can easily be adjusted where necessary to address new mutations.