Tuesday, April 13

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid shot neutralises Brazilian strain in lab


Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are seen inside a freezer in Cali, Colombia. — AFP file photo

The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE showed a high ability to neutralise coronavirus strains first detected in Brazil, the UK and South Africa, according to a new study.

In lab experiments, the shot demonstrated “roughly equivalent” levels of neutralising activity against the Brazil and UK strains compared with a version of the virus from early last year. It also showed “robust but lower” activity against the South Africa variant, according to a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

While the research needs to be validated with real-world data, it offers another reason for optimism that the Covid vaccines are generally performing well against variants of the virus.

The research was supported by Pfizer and BioNTech and performed by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.

The study tested serum samples taken from people either two or four weeks after they had received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. That was pitted against viruses that had been engineered to have mutations from the three virus lineages.

While vaccine developers including BioNTech are already working on new versions of their shots to combat mutant strains, the current generation of Covid shots are already showing some encouraging results against the variants.

The vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc provides protection against the Brazil variant, Reuters reported, citing the country’s Fiocruz biomedical institute.

The strain first found in South Africa, however, has at times been tougher to target. The country switched to using Johnson & Johnson shots last month for its initial inoculations after a small study showed the AstraZeneca shots had little impact on mild infections caused by the variant. – Bloomberg