Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine neutralizes brazil variant in lab study as experts warn of rapid spread

New research revealed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new variant of the coronavirus, spreading rapidly in Brazil.

The laboratory study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the previous week and was conducted by scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch, according to Reuters.  

The scientists found the blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine neutralized an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious P.1 variant, which was first identified in Brazil. The spike, which is used by the virus to enter human cells, is the primary target of such COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the scientists who led the study, the neutralizing ability was roughly the vaccine’s effect on a previously less contagious strain of the virus last year. 

In earlier published studies, Pfizer had found that its vaccine neutralized more contagious variants of the coronavirus, first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, even though the South African variant may reduce protective antibodies elicited by the vaccine. 

Pfizer said it believes its current vaccine is highly likely to still protect against the South African variant. However, the pharmaceutical giant is planning to test a third booster dose of their vaccine as well as a version retooled specifically to fight off the variant in order to better understand the immune response.


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