A new study shows that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can prevent mutations found in two easily spreading coronavirus variants in the UK and South Africa.
These variants have attracted global attention. They carry multiple mutations, but they share one mutation, which is thought to be the reason they are more infectious. Called N501Y, it is a small change at one point of the spike protein covering the virus.
Most vaccines launched worldwide will train the human body to recognize and fight against this spike protein. Pfizer collaborated with researchers at the University of Texas at Galveston to conduct laboratory tests to understand whether this mutation affects the ability of its vaccine.
They used blood samples from 20 people who received vaccines produced by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which were derived from a large-scale study of the lens. According to this study, the antibodies from those vaccinated successfully defended against the virus in the laboratory dish. It was posted on the researchers̵
This research is preliminary and has not been reviewed by experts. This is a key step in medical research.
Dr. Philip Domitzel, chief scientific officer of Pfizer, said: “For this vaccine, “at least surprisingly, at least this mutation is one of the mutations that people are most worried about, and it does not seem to be a problem.”
A similar vaccine for Moderna is being launched in the United States and Europe and will be cleared in the United Kingdom on Friday. Moderna, like other manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines, is doing similar tests to determine whether its injections can also fight against this variant.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, recently told the Associated Press The vaccine is designed to recognize multiple parts of the spike protein, so a single mutation may not be enough to stop them. Nevertheless, it still needs to be tested to make sure.
As the virus spreads from person to person, subtle changes continue to occur. Since the first discovery of the coronavirus in China about a year ago, scientists have used these subtle modifications to track how the coronavirus spread across the globe.
British scientists say that the variants found in the UK-now the main variants in parts of England-still appear to be sensitive to vaccines. This mutant has now been found in the United States and many other countries.
However, this variant, first discovered in South Africa, has an additional mutation that puts scientists on the edge, a mutation called E484K.
Pfizer’s research found that the vaccine seems to be able to fight another 15 possible viral mutations, but E484K is not in the test range. Dormitzer said it was next on the list.
If the virus eventually mutates to a level sufficient to adjust the vaccine (just like adjusting influenza vaccines in most years), it will not be difficult to adjust the formulation of the company’s vaccines and similar vaccines. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are made from a piece of viral genetic code, which is easy to switch, although it is not clear what additional tests the regulator will need to make this change.
According to Dormitzer, this is just the beginning of “continuous monitoring of virus changes to see if there is anything that might affect vaccine coverage.”
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.