The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine does work against one of the most recent and concerning new strains of COVID-19, researchers have said.
A study, carried out by the two companies which teamed up with the University of Texas, has found evidence to suggest that antibodies found in those who have been immunised were still effective.
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Although the findings have not yet been approved by other researchers and the team say they were not able to look at other spike mutations in the new strains, they are “encouraged” by their results.
It is thought the N501Y mutation is more contagious and there was concern that the sought-after vaccine may no longer work against it.
But, viral vaccine expert Phil Dormitzer, from Pfizer, said: “We’ve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That’s the good news. That doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t.”
The trial involved using blood taken from people who had already been inoculated.
Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, Professor Pei-Yong Shi, from the University of Texas, said: “We should monitor the type of new changes in virus and make sure they remain to be potently inhibited by the vaccine or therapeutic antibodies.
“But if those studies indicate the vaccine is losing its activity against the new strain, then it is ultimately, immediately important to consider switching the sequence.”
The newly discovered strain in the UK has spread quickly which is why the prime minister ordered a third lockdown to take place.
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On Saturday a further 1,035 deaths in the UK were reported, taking the total by that measure to 80,868.
A second variant has been detected in South Africa, which has led to all international travellers arriving to England now being made to undergo a negative COVID-19 test before they are permitted into the country.