BioNTech / Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be effective against the English variant of the COVID-19 virus which worries the international community because of its greater transmissibility, according to the results of two preliminary studies posted online Wednesday.
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“Our results suggest that the majority of vaccine responses should be effective against the B.1.1.7 variant”, believe, in one of the two studies not yet evaluated by other scientists, an international team of researchers from British and Dutch universities .
To assess the vaccine’s effectiveness, the researchers tested the English variant in the laboratory with the plasma of 36 patients who recovered from severe or milder forms of COVID-19.
“The majority of samples” were able to “neutralize” the variant, although the “power” of neutralization was reduced in 3 of the samples.
In a separate preliminary study, a team of BioNTech / Pfizer researchers come to similar conclusions, comparing the effect of plasma from 16 participants in its clinical trials on the English variant and the original Wuhan virus.
They conclude that the two have an “equivalent” neutralization capacity and thus consider it “unlikely” that the English variant “escapes the protection” of their vaccine. Where appropriate, they point out that the “flexibility” of the technology of this messenger RNA vaccine would allow the vaccine to be adapted to a new strain of the virus.
In a study put online in early January, researchers from BioNTech / Pfizer had already estimated that the vaccine seemed effective against a “key mutation” common to the British, South African and Brazilian variants.
This mutation called N501Y is located at the level of the Spike protein (spicule) of the coronavirus, the tip which is on its surface and allows it to attach to human cells to penetrate them, therefore playing a key role in viral infection. .
But when it comes to vaccine effectiveness, experts are most concerned about another mutation called E484K, which the South African and Brazilian variants carry, but not the English variant.
In this context, it is “important to continue to monitor the variants and to assess their impact on neutralization in vitro”, stress the researchers of the first study.