- A recent research shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine has the potential to be successful against the new mutant virus strain
- The research, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, shows that the vaccine has worked against 16 various kinds of mutations so far
- Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, had earlier said that their vaccine is highly likely to be successful against the emerging strain of mutant coronavirus.
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared to function against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new strains of the coronavirus found in the UK and South Africa, according to a laboratory study performed by the United States of America drug maker.
The vaccine is shown to be effective in neutralizing the virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein in not-yet peer-reviewed research by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists, said that the mutation could be responsible for higher transmissibility and there was fear that it could also help the virus escape antibody neutralization elicited by the vaccine.
The research was performed on blood taken from persons who had received the vaccine. Its results are constrained since either of the new strains of the rapidly spreading virus does not look at the full set of mutations found.
Dormitzer said it was encouraging that, along with 15 other mutations that the company has previously tested against, the vaccine is successful against the mutation.
Phil Dormitzer, who is one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists said, “That’s the good news that 16 different mutations have been tested now, and none of them have really had any significant effect,” Phil Dormitzer further said, “That doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t.”
Dormitzer also expressed his concerns that another mutation, called the E484K mutation, found in the South African strain, is concerning.
In order to see if the vaccine is successful against other mutations found in the UK and South African strains, the researchers plan to run similar tests and expect to have more data within weeks.
Scientists have expressed concern that vaccines, particularly the one that emerged in South Africa, might not be able to protect against the new variants being rolled out.
Simon Clarke, who is the associate professor of Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading has said that in this week, even though both COVID-19 variants had some features in common, the COVID-19 variant found in South Africa “has a number additional mutations” which involves a more extensive spike protein alterations.
If required, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the one from Moderna Inc, using synthetic messenger RNA technology, can be easily tweaked to resolve new virus mutations. The improvements could be made in as little as six weeks, scientists have proposed.