The makers of Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine said on Thursday that their vaccine is only slightly less effective against the new Covid-19 variants that are spreading widely in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
A study undertaken by the U.S. pharmaceutical giant and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) revealed a “reduction in antibody titer levels, which designates that the vaccine would most likely be effective in counterbalancing the E484K and N501Y mutations found in the South African variant.”
The laboratory test suggests that antibodies triggered by the Covid-19 vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants. In a statement released by both companies, they state that these new findings “do not indicate the need for a new vaccine to address the emerging variants.”
But more studies are needed to confirm this is true for people who have not been vaccinated since the study was only conducted on blood taken from people who had received the vaccine. Also, the findings are rendered limited because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in the new South African variant.
The scientists are currently studying the virus with a full set of mutations and have presumed they will have the results in around two weeks, according to Pei-Yong Shi, an author of the study and a professor at UTMB.
The Pfizer statement comes after a declaration made by U.S. biotech firm Moderna earlier this week that its coronavirus vaccine also seems to work against the new and more contagious variants of Covid-19 found in the UK and South Africa.
The new variants have continued to expand in a number of nations, with no less than 58 countries around the world stating it has at least one case of the UK variant.
Due to the climbing numbers of people with the new strain in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) made a study on the India-made Covaxin vaccine, in which it showed a similar neutralization of liveliness in the vaccinated individuals against the new UK-variant strain.
In India, the number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of Covid-19 has climbed to 153, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.
Although findings prove there is no need for another vaccine to address the new variants, Pfizer and BioNTech stated they are ready to respond if a variant of the virus shows a sign of escaping immunization by the vaccine.
Ameenah Hassan is an intern at Arbiterz.