A study has found that the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to be “effective" against the new covid-19 strains.
According to a lab study conducted by Pfizer, the vaccine seemed to work against a key mutation within the highly communicable new variants of the virus, discovered in the UK and South Africa.
The positive news from the not-yet peer reviewed study comes as UK battles with increasing coronavirus cases and deaths, caused by the highly infectious new mutation.
Previously, scientists cast doubt over whether vaccines would protect against new strains, particularly the one common in South Africa.
Phil Dormitzer, a viral vaccine scientist at the US drug maker, said that the mutation might be liable for greater transmissibility and there had been worries it could also make the virus escape antibody neutralization brought about by the vaccine.
Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch, who carried out the sturdy indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing virus with the N501Y mutation of the spike protein.
But, findings of the study conducted on blood from people that had been given the vaccine, are limited because it doesn’t look at the complete set of mutations discovered in either of the new strains of the fast spreading virus.
It was “encouraging that the vaccine appears effective” against the mutation, including fifteen other mutations the company has previously tested against, Dormitzer said.
He also expressed concerns about another mutation found in the South African variant, known as E484K mutation.
Researchers plan to run similar tests to ascertain if the vaccine is effective against other mutations discovered within the UK and South African variants and hope to acquire more data within weeks.
Notwithstanding, the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccine, which use synthetic messenger RNA technology, can be quickly tweaked to address new mutations of a virus if required.
Scientists have suggested the changes could be made in as little as 6 weeks. It comes as NHS England chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens warned there were just thirty-nine days left to meet the target set by prime minister Boris Johnson, to vaccinate the country's most vulnerable.
On Thursday, speaking at a press conference Stevens said there will be a "huge acceleration" in the vaccination programme over the pending weeks in order to reach targets.
The Prime minister, Johnson said thus far, 1.5 million people across the UK have had their first dose already as part of an "unprecedented" effort. He said that each elderly care home resident will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of January.
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