- The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against the SARS-COV-2 variant first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), according to results of a new study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed . The study found that a lab-made version of the virus – with all the mutations resembling the B.1.1.7 variant – was neutralized by the volunteer’s immune system.
- Another study from Pfizer showed the vaccine to be effective against a key mutation called N501Y, which is present in both the B.1.1.7 variant and the new strain that has emerged in South Africa (B.1.351). However, another study – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – found that the B.1.351 variant contains mutations that may be resistant to immunity from previous coronavirus infection, which doesn’t necessarily mean it could be resistant to vaccines.
- Scientists have seen three key mutations in the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) on the variant identified in Manaus, north Brazil (P.1, lineage B.1.1.28). These mutations largely mirror some of those that experts are concerned about in the B.1.351 variant. Although there have been some indications that vaccines will work on these variants, experts say it is still too early to be sure if they will be effective against the new mutations seen on the P1 variant identified in north Brazil.
- In a study published on a preprint server, Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine continues to protect against two of the major mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2 circulating around the world: the B.1.1.7 and the B.1.351. Blood from people vaccinated with the Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine did not generate as many immune antibodies against B.1.351 as they did against the non-mutant virus—in fact, this blood contained about six-fold lower levels of antibodies. However, this study states that the level of antibodies still remains high enough to provide sufficient protection against COVID-19 disease.
- Preliminary analyses have shown a potentially slightly reduced vaccine effectiveness of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the B.1.1.7. Preliminary analyses from the South Africa Phase 1/2a trial (COV005) indicate minimal protection against mild and moderate disease based on a small sample size. This study was not designed to assess efficacy against severe COVID-19. These preliminary findings highlight the urgent need for a coordinated approach for monitoring and evaluation on variants and their impact on vaccine effectiveness.
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