A recently published research paper by Pfizer and partner BioNTech is claiming its coronavirus vaccine is likely to be highly effective against the UK COVID-19 variant. The variant also known as B.1.1.7, has caused alarm among experts because of its increased ability to spread and supercharge virus outbreaks.
Pfizer research paper which has not been subjected to peer evaluation showed that the UK variant was effectively neutralized by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “Our results suggest that the majority of vaccine responses should be effective against the B.1.1.7 variant,” stated researchers from Britain and the Netherlands in one of the studies.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine functions by building the body’s immune defenses to enable the immune system fight the virus. This study was tested in more than a dozen patients over the age of 55 and with antibody-rich blood plasma from 36 patients who had recovered from either mild or severe forms of COVID-19 according the published paper.
The scientists also compared the neutralizing effect of plasma from 16 participants in their vaccine clinical trials against the British variant and the original virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and found that an “equivalent” neutralization capacity was possible in both variants hence concluding it was “unlikely” the B.1.1.7 variant could escape the immune protection of the vaccine.
Recall that in a previous preliminary research from Pfizer/BioNTech released earlier this month, scientists found the vaccine was effective against a mutation, N501Y, common to the virus variants found in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
However, it is another mutation known as E484K and present in the variants detected in South Africa and Brazil, that has experts particularly worried about immunity “escape.” Most scientists have been maintaining that the British and South African variants, which have reached Israel as well, are more transmissible than the original strain, but less deadly.
Researchers concluded the paper on the note that they would still prepare for possible tweaks to their vaccine, if needed, to address further mutations of the coronavirus and it would take about six weeks to come up with a modified vaccine.