Studies Find Pfizer Vaccine Neutralizes Variant COVID Viruses
The Pfizer logo is seen at the Pfizer Inc. headquarters on December 9, 2020 in New York City.
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Two small studies conducted at New York University and the University of Texas have found that subjects who had received the standard two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the coronavirus will largely succeed in warding off the South African coronavirus variant.

“In a U.S. study of 20 vaccine recipients, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that the vaccine neutralizes the virus with the N501Y and E484K mutation. Researchers at New York University, investigating the South African variant in a study of 10 people, also reportedly found the immune antibodies made by the vaccine were still able to destroy the virus,” The Mirror reported.

The researchers at NYU, led by microbiologist Dr. Nathaniel Landau, wrote, “’The findings suggest that the protection provided by vaccination will remain largely intact against the South Africa variant and other currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants,” adding, “These findings suggest that antibodies elicited by primary infection and by the [Pfizer/BioNTech] vaccine are likely to maintain protective efficacy against B.1.1.7 and most other variants but that the partial resistance of virus with the B.1.351 spike protein could render some individuals less well protected, supporting a rationale for the development of modified vaccines containing E484K.”

The researchers from Pfizer and the University of Texas used the blood samples from vaccinated patients and exposed them to a virus that had been created with similar mutations to the South African variant. A significant reduction in the production of antibodies was found. The researchers wrote they had found only “small effects of these mutations on neutralization… by two doses.”

The University of Texas study acknowledged, “Using an infectious complementary DNA (cDNA) clone of SARS-CoV-2 we engineered three spike mutant viruses on the genetic background of clinical strain USA-WA1/2020. Mutant N501Y virus contains the N501Y mutation that is shared by both the UK and SA variants. … Mutant Δ69/70 + N501Y + D614G virus contains two additional changes present in the UK variants … Mutant E484K + N501Y + D614G virus additionally contains the E484K substitution, which is also located in the viral RBD.

The study admitted, “A limitation of the current study is that the engineered viruses do not include the full set of spike mutations found in the UK or SA variants. Nevertheless, preserved neutralization of N501Y, Δ69/70 + N501Y + D614G and E484K + N501Y + D614G viruses by BNT162b2 vaccine-elicited human sera is consistent with preserved neutralization of a panel of 15 pseudoviruses bearing spikes with other single mutations found in circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains.’

“Early results from Moderna suggest its vaccine is still effective against the South Africa variant,” the Daily Mail noted. Moderna announced on January 25, “Moderna Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced results from in vitro neutralization studies of sera from individuals vaccinated with Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine showing activity against emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2. Vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine produced neutralizing titers against all key emerging variants tested, including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, first identified in the UK and Republic of South Africa, respectively.”

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