Healthcare

Pfizer, BioNTech say vaccine likely as effective against COVID-19 variant first found in UK

Pfizer, BioNTech say vaccine likely as effective against COVID-19 variant first found in UK

A study conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech found that their coronavirus vaccine is likely just as effective against the strain first found in the U.K. that is estimated to be more contagious.

The companies published the study on preprint server bioRxiv, saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be effective against any mutations from the coronavirus variant, called B.1.1.7., that first emerged in the U.K. in September. 

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, concluded that there were “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity” between trials involving the original COVID-19 strain and B.1.1.7. 

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The research on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found that antibodies in the blood of 16 participants, who had previously received the vaccine, neutralized all mutations from B.1.1.7. Eight of the participants were between 18 and 55, and the other eight were between 56 and 85.

Researchers cautioned that mutations of the COVID-19 strain and other variants will demand “continuous monitoring of the significance of changes for maintained protection by currently authorized vaccines.”

The emergence of the more contagious strain in the U.K. and another similar variant in South Africa has sparked fears that the vaccines being rolled out over the past month won’t be able to prevent the new variants from spreading.

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An initial study published on Jan. 8 determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be effective against a key coronavirus mutation located in the strains.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved in the U.S., U.K. and the European Union last month.

Worldwide, more than 96.2 million people have contracted COVID-19 and more than 2 million have died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.