COVID-19 : Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would protect against variants, studies show

Coronavirus variants identified in the US 0:54

. – A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday suggests that Pfizer / BioNTech’s covid-19 vaccine may protect people against new variants of the coronavirus, including one that was first seen in South Africa called B. .1,351.

For the study, researchers from Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch engineered versions of the virus to carry some of the mutations found in B.1,351. They tested them with blood samples taken from 15 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

While the blood serum samples produced less neutralizing antibody activity, it was still enough to neutralize the virus, they wrote in a letter to the journal. This is in line with other studies. And it also goes into what is seen with other viruses, said one of the researchers.

“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 the Pfizer vaccine is likely to offer relatively good protection against this new variant.” Scott Weaver, director of the Human Immunity and Infections Institute of the University of Texas Medical Branch and study author, told CNN.

‘The reduction in neutralization levels against the South African variant of approximately 2/3 is quite small compared to the 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.

What Pfizer Says About Its Vaccine And Variants

Pfizer said there is no real-life evidence that the variant escapes the protection offered by its vaccine. “However, Pfizer and BioNTech are taking the necessary steps, making the right investments, and engaging in the right discussions with regulators to be in a position to develop and seek authorization for an updated mRNA vaccine or a booster once a strain reduces significantly protecting the vaccine, ”Pfizer said in a statement.

Separately, a team from the National Institutes of Health and Modernism published a letter in the same journal describing the findings of an experiment they reported last month. They also reported a reduction in antibody response to viruses genetically modified to look like variant B.1,351, but not a sufficient reduction for the vaccine to work less effectively.

“Despite this reduction, neutralizing concentration levels with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels expected to be protective,” the company said in a statement.

They found no reduction in efficacy versus a variant first seen in the UK and known as B.1,1.7.