Pfizer Vaccine Appears to Work Against Variant, Research Shows

Ralph Ellis

January 08, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Laboratory experiments indicate the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will offer protection against the two coronavirus variants found in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Scientists from Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch created a version of the variant in the lab, CNN reported. They took blood samples from 20 people who'd been given the Pfizer vaccine and found that antibodies from those people successfully warded off the virus variant in the lab dishes.

The lab experiment offers hope that the people who received the Pfizer vaccine will be protected from the variants in real life ― at least in the short term.

"There is a definite concern over the long period," epidemiologist and ABC News contributor John Brownstein, MD, told ABC News last week. "Over months and years, it could pose a problem with the vaccine … but I think in the coming six months, we'll be totally fine with the current vaccine."

The study which was published Thursday has not been peer reviewed and did not examine the full array of virus mutations.

Public knowledge of the coronavirus variants emerged in December as the United Kingdom began it vaccination program. From the beginning health experts have said they had no evidence to show that existing vaccines would not work against the variants.

The variants appear to be more transmissible than the original coronavirus, but no more deadly. The UK variant has been found in more than 30 nations and at least six states in the United States.

Moderna is also testing and company CEO Stephane Bancel recently said he thinks the company's vaccine, which is similar to Pfizer's, will prove effective against the UK variant.

Both the U.K. super strain and the super strain found in South Africa have the same mutation on their spike protein that makes them more transmissible ― N501Y. But each strain developed the mutation independently, scientists say.


CNN. "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine appears to work against mutation in new variants, study finds"

MSN. "Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine likely to work against new, rapidly-spreading variants: Study"

BioRXiv. "Neutralization of N501Y mutant SARS-CoV-2 by BNT162b2 vaccine-elicited sera"