Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine protects against key mutation found in fast-spreading virus variants, study shows

Research shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against a newly discovered coronavirus mutation that is much more contagious than the original strain. First discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the mutation has showed up in eight U.S. states.

Research shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against a newly discovered coronavirus mutation that is much more contagious than the original strain. First discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the mutation has showed up in eight U.S. states. A more transmissible virus could mean a higher threshold of vaccine participation needed to achieve herd immunity. However, the study at the University of Texas Medical Branch—which has not yet been peer-reviewed—found not only that blood serum from patients who survived COVID-19 protected against the mutation but also that antibodies in the blood serum of vaccine recipients provided like protection. Even if vaccines do neutralize the mutation, experts agree on the importance of flagging genetic changes. "One clear scientific message is that we need to track and study these variants in great detail," said John Mascola, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "We didn't know, a few months ago, how much variation would occur in this virus, how quickly it would occur, or what the impact of this variation would be. Now we know: A variant can emerge in a population and become dominant in a matter of weeks or months."