Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for coronavirus is found helpful against the mutated variant of this virus which has appeared lately in the UK. A new study conducted by Pfizer says that its COVID-19 vaccine is helpful against the changed virus too and these mutations would not affect the efficiency of the vaccine. This news has brought relief to the people who have already received the vaccine or were set to get their vaccine soon. Earlier, the mutated coronavirus strains have put question marks on the competency and effectiveness of these vaccines.
This Pfizer vaccine is reportedly helpful against two new variants of coronavirus which have appeared in South Africa and the UK. These new variants turned out to be deadlier than the original strain and both showed the same mutation inside which is identified as N501Y. It represents a slight change at one spot of the spikey protein which surrounds the main body. These spike-like proteins are responsible for the faster transmission of the virus which is why the mutated proteins have made it easy for the virus to spread.
The new mutated coronavirus strains have become an international health concern even with the availability of the vaccine. This identified mutated, N501Y is tiny but it has made the virus highly contagious and deadly, even more than the original strain.
Currently, pharmaceutical and research companies are working on this new mutated strain hoping to develop a vaccine that specifically targets it. Pfizer, which has already launched its coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with BioNTech has evaluated its vaccine against the mutated version. The research team from the University of Texas Medical Branch analyzed the new viral mutation by obtaining the samples from 20 people who have already given the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
In laboratory testing, the antibodies taken from these participants were able to ward off the mutated coronavirus. Pfizer has issued a press release suggesting that its vaccine is able to recognize the viral particles, even if there are mutations. However, it also focused on the need for further verification from clinical studies.
It is common for viruses to mutate from time to time. When they are transmitted from one host to another, they try to make themselves better by making some modifications and it is part of their natural evolution. The virus which is now identified in South Africa, Spain, and the UK is a little different from that virus which was originally identified in Wuhan, China, one year ago.
But the good thing is that the currently available vaccine will protect from this mutated strain as well. British researchers have confirmed the presence of a mutation in the new coronavirus strain but with this study, it seems that it can be handled with the vaccines. The mutates coronavirus strain has spread to many other countries including the United States in the last few weeks.
The mutated strain spotted in South Africa has more than one mutation and in addition to the N510Y, it also has another mutation which is termed E484K. This Pfizer-based study has evaluated 15 potential mutations but it has not studied E484K yet. However, the company shares its plan of studying it next, hoping that the result will be the same as that of the N510Y mutation.