Pfizer, BioNTech shot likely to defeat mutant, new study shows
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE built the case that their Covid-19 vaccine will protect against the new variant of the coronavirus that emerged in the U.K. with results of another lab trial.
Like previous work out of the University of Texas Medical Branch, the results published on Wednesday showed that antibodies in the blood of people who had been vaccinated were able to neutralize a version of the mutant virus that was created in the lab. The study was published on preprint server BioRxiv prior to peer review.
Unlike the earlier study, which focused on one crucial mutation, the new research tested all 10 mutations located on the virus’s spike protein, which helps it bind to cells in the host.
Antibodies in the blood of 16 volunteers in a previous German trial of the vaccine were just as effective against the lab-created mutant strain as they were against the original virus. The result “makes it very unlikely that the U.K. variant viruses will escape” protection from the vaccine, wrote the research team, led by BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin.
“Unlike for influenza vaccines, the reduction in neutralization that might indicate the need for a strain change has not been established for Covid-19 vaccines,” the team wrote. Still, they added, it’s “prudent” to be prepared to adapt the vaccine if needed in the future.
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