A study has found that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines can protect people from the new coronavirus variants, including one first detected in South Africa called B.1.351.
According to a report published in New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Pfizer and University of Texas tested genetically engineered versions of the virus carrying mutations found in B.1.351 against blood samples collected from 15 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against COVID-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant,” CNN quoted Scott Weaver, director of Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at University of Texas Medical Branch and an author of the study, as saying.
“The reduction in levels of neutralization against the South African variant of about 2/3 is fairly small compared to variations in neutralization levels generated by vaccines against other viruses that have even more variability in their protein sequences than SARS-CoV-2,” Weaver added.
The New England Journal also published a letter from a team at National Institutes of Health and Moderna outlining positive findings from an experiment they conducted last month. It reported a reduction in antibody response to virus engineered to look like B.1.351 variant, but not enough to make the vaccine work less effectively.