A study not yet reviewed by peers, sent yesterday (7) to the pre-publication repository bioRxiv, revealed that the vaccine against covid-19 developed by the pharmaceutical consortium Pfizer / BioNTech proved to be effective in preventing highly transmissible coronavirus mutations, found in the UK and South Africa.
Although the conclusions are still limited, as they have not analyzed the complete set of new strains found, their importance is decisive since these mutations have represented a large portion of the new cases of covid-19. The research used blood drawn from people who had already received the vaccine.
Conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch, the study found that the Pfizer vaccine was able to neutralize the N501 and Y501 mutations in the SARS-Cov-2 virus based on a trial involving 20 participants who were part of previous immunization trials .
The UK and South Africa variants
The SARS-CoV-2 variants that emerged in the UK and South Africa and spread quickly are of concern because they affect the spike protein, the part that allows the virus to enter human cells. The UK variant alone, known as B117, has now spread to most of the planet.
In addition to these two critical variations, Pfizer tested its vaccine against large numbers of mutations. Pharmaceutical viral vaccine scientist Phil Domitzer told Reuters that the good news is that they tested 16 mutations, with no significant impact. The bad news, he concluded, is that “it doesn’t mean that the 17th has”.
In the coming weeks, the scientists plan to focus their efforts on tests against other mutations present in the known variants, mainly in one detected in South Africa, called E484K, which, due to more extensive changes in the spike protein, can theoretically resist the immunization of current vaccines.