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20 Jan 2021 | 12:00

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine effective against new strain, fresh study shows

(Sharecast News) - The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is capable of neutralising the new strain of the novel coronavirus detected in the UK, a new study confirmed. However, a separate study conducted in South Africa appeared to show there might be some re-infection threat from the strain detected in that country.

Significantly, the first of those studies tested the vaccine against a lab-created version of the virus that contained all of the key genetic mutations of the variant found in the UK.

Prior work conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch had reached a similar conclusion, but had only analysed the vaccine's efficacy against what was considered the crucial mutation, known as N501Y, in the two new strains, which affected the virus's spike protein.

According to the BioNTech chief executive officer, Ugur Sahin, the results "makes it very unlikely that the UK variant viruses will escape".

Yet research conducted by South Africa's Institute for Communicable Diseases, albeit using blood samples from just a handful of patients, showed that half of them did not have enough antibodies to protect against the strain found in South Africa.

Hence, those patients may not have protection from re-infection any longer while for the remainder antibody levels were lower and the risk of re-infection undetermined.

Nonetheless, BioNTech is confident that it can rejig its vaccine in roughly six weeks if necessary for it to be able protect against new strains.
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