THE Pfizer Covid vaccine does work against the South African variant, a new study suggests.
The Pfizer jab appears to be effective against the South African strainCredit: AFP or licensors
But in a small US study published today, scientists saw evidence the mutant viruses were stopped by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
New Covid strains which emerged in the UK and South Africa share the same N501Y mutation.
A separate South African strain has an E484K mutation, with a number of cases also detected in the UK.
Fears have been raised over the effect of the vaccines, developed before the variants appeared, on the mutations.
To test the theory, samples from 20 vaccinated people were taken two to four weeks after their second jab.
And researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found the vaccine does block the virus with the N501Y and E484K mutation.
Pei-Yong Shi, from the UTMB, said: “The rapidly spreading UK and South African strains of SARS-CoV-2 have raised alarms – do the newly emerged mutations affect vaccine efficacy, therapeutic antibody potency, virus transmission, and disease severity
“As a continuous collaboration with Pfizer, we used a panel of clinical trial serum specimens to test if this single mutation affects the antibody activity against the virus induced by the vaccine.
“Our results showed this mutation alone does not compromise the vaccine’s neutralising activity against the virus, which is good news for the vaccine.”
Today Boris Johnson defended the AstraZeneca jab and others as “no doubt the way out” of the pandemic – despite fears it’s not as effective on the South African variant.
A study of about 2,000 patients showed the vaccine had reduced efficacy against mild disease caused by the strain.
However, AstraZeneca – which developed the jab with the University of Oxford – said it believes its vaccine could protect against severe disease.
The British drugmaker said the neutralising antibody activity of the jab is equivalent to that of other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated protection against severe disease.
Today a scientists warned lockdown could last longer if the South African Covid variant spreads.
Dr Mike Tildesley said “it’s very possible” the mutated strain is already widespread in the UK – as 147 cases were confirmed by the health minister.
Dr Mike Tildesley, an infectious disease expert at Warwick University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “surge testing” taking place in certain areas in England “really needs to be effective” to halt transmission.
But he warned that “sadly we may be in a similar situation to the Kent variant” which eventually spread across the whole of the UK.