The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. PFE and BioNTech SE – ADR BNTX works against a new strain of coronavirus that appeared in the U.K., according to a preprint made available before publication.
What Happened: The B.1.1.7 strain is unlikely to escape BNT162b2-mediated protection, according to the preprint. BNT162b2 is the mRNA-based vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and is approved for emergency use in a host of countries.
The deduction followed investigation of SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses bearing either the Wuhan reference strain or the B.1.1.7 lineage spike protein with sera of 16 participants in a previously reported trial with BNT162b2.
The immune sera had equivalent neutralizing titers to both variants, and it also provided combined immunity involving humoral and cellular effectors.
"The ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 necessitates continuous monitoring of the significance of changes for maintained protection by currently authorized vaccines," researchers said in the preprint.
The companies had earlier in late December expressed confidence in the vaccine working against the new variant.
Why It's Important: The B.1.1.7 strain identified in the U.K. was found to be more contagious than other strains. This variant has an unusually large number of mutations, with 10 amino acid changes in the spike protein, giving rise to fears that its recognition by neutralizing antibodies may be affected.
The findings by Pfizer and BioNTech come as a welcome relief as the world struggles to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic that is caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Other vaccine developers such as Moderna Inc MRNA and AstraZeneca plc AZN are also testing their vaccines against the new strain. Pfizer-BioNTech is the first company to have proved through lab study the effectiveness of its vaccine against the new strain.
BNTX, PFE Price Action: BioNTech shares were down 1.58% at $103.05 at last check, while Pfizer shares were down 0.63% at $36.50.
Photo courtesy of Pfizer.
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