Early study shows Pfizer vax works against mutated COVID strains

Jan. 8, 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech announced results from an in vitro study conducted by Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) that shows the antibodies from people who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine effectively neutralize SARS-CoV-2 with the key mutation that is also found in two highly transmissible strains.

Initially reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the rapidly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 have now been detected in more than 30 countries, including in isolated cases throughout the US. These variants have multiple mutations in their spike or S glycoproteins, which are key targets of virus neutralizing antibodies. According to Pfizer, though these two rapidly spreading viruses are different, they share the N501Y mutation.

To determine if sera of people who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could neutralize SARS-CoV-2 with the N501Y mutation, a virus with this substitution was generated in UTMB’s laboratory. The sera of 20 participants from the previously reported Phase 3 trial neutralized the virus with the mutation as well as they neutralized virus without the mutation.

These early findings indicate that the key N501Y mutation does not create resistance to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine induced immune responses.

Pfizer says further data are needed to monitor the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine — authorized for emergency use by the FDA in early December — in preventing COVID-19 caused by new virus variants.

Read the press release