It appears as though the Pfizer vaccine will fight both COVID-19 mutations effectively.
In the past few weeks, two new mutations of COVID-19 have been identified. One is said to have originated in the UK and the other in South Africa. Governments around the world have raised concerns about how the current COVID-19 vaccines will interact with these new strains. Nobody knew whether or not the vaccine would be effective against these new strains.
However, Pfizer has recently conducted a study to try and address the issue, and it’s looking good so far. Research conducted with the University of Texas suggests that the Pfizer vaccine will be effective against both new strains. Scientists used blood samples from 20 people to see whether the antibodies given to them by the vaccine would fight off the new strains effectively, and they did just that. Their appropriate organisations haven’t reviewed the research yet – however, it’s definitely a good sign.
What is different about the new strains?
British and South African strains of the virus have caused some consternation recently, as scientists weren’t sure how effective the approved vaccines would be against these strains. Both of these new variants have mutated in the spike protein section of the virus. Spike proteins are glycoproteins – the fringed, or spikey part around the virus that you see in visual representations of COVID-19. These spike proteins latch onto human cells and infect us, and these spike proteins can mutate to better permeate the human body, becoming more infectious.
Both of the variants have mutated in a specific section of the spike protein which scientists are calling ‘N501Y’. However, the South African variant has also mutated in two different areas called E484K and K417N. Scientists have not yet tested the vaccines’ antibodies’ reaction to the E484K mutation, but are hoping to do so soon.