The Pfizer vaccine may be effective against the Brazil, UK and South Africa coronavirus variants, a new study suggests.

The research also indicates the Pfizer vaccine generated an antibody response against the variants when tested in a laboratory against an engineered version of the virus, with blood samples taken from 15 people who had received the jab.

The new coronavirus variants carry mutations which change the spike protein of the virus which it uses to attach to human cells, and may also have an impact on transmission.

Researchers found that levels of neutralising antibodies were generated against all of the variants, although this did vary quantitatively between variants.

According to the correspondence published in New England Journal Of Medicine, the response was greatest against the original variant, and against the more transmissible B117 variant first detected in Kent.

It was slightly lower against the P1 Brazil variant, and lower still against the B151 variant first identified in South Africa, the researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch and Pfizer found.

“Reassuringly, while the levels were lower for the P1 and B151 variants, they were still substantial, and likely to indicate that the vaccine will be effective,” said Dr Peter English, consultant in communicable disease control, who was not involved in the research.

“The authors remind us that these are laboratory findings, based on serum from only 15 individuals, and that other aspects of the immune response, such as T-cell (cellular) immunity are likely to be important in real-world vaccine efficacy, and the vaccine ‘elicits CD8+ T-cell responses that recognise multiple variants’.

“Taken together, these findings indicate that this vaccine is likely to be effective against the variants studied, although precisely how effective they are in the real world will require data on the vaccine’s actual effect in populations, not just in laboratory studies such as this one.”

Post by Amanda Scott, NA CEO.  Follow her on twitter @tantriclens

Thanks to Heinz V. Hoenen.  Follow him on twitter: @HeinzVHoenen

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