Study Finds COVID Vaccine is Likely Effective Against New Variant
Pfizer and BioNTech have announced the results of a new study that indicates the Coronavirus vaccine protects against the new variant, N501Y mutant SARS-CoV-2, which is highly infectious, and was originally detected in the United Kingdom. The study was performed by scientists from Pfizer and The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and has not been peer-reviewed. N501Y has now been identified in more than 30 countries, as well as 8 American states.
“I think this is really important because there is a lot of fear and uncertainty at the moment about this specific question,” Shane Crotty, a vaccine and immune system scientist at La Jolla Institute for Immunology, told The Washington Post. “It’s not surprising, but it’s been really important to see some data,” Crotty continued. To test the ability of the vaccine, scientists took blood samples from 20 immunized people and tested whether the antibodies were still effective at blocking the new variant. The results indicated the antibodies were able to neutralize the N501Y variant.
Dr. Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer’s Chief Scientist Officer told The Associated Press (AP) “it was a very reassuring finding that at least this mutation, which was one of the ones people are most concerned about, does not seem to be a problem” for the vaccine. Dormitzer also stated that the Pfizer study found the vaccine appeared to be effective against 15 additional mutations. Not included in this list of mutations is the E484K mutation that has recently been discovered in South Africa. Dormitzer told AP it is next on the list for Pfizer to test.
The study did not examine the mutation against the Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, but similar studies are ongoing. John Mascola, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post there is a “major effort within NIH to work with the companies to do these exact tests, happening as we speak.”