rain.png
Monday September 20th, 2021 3:58PM

Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

New research suggests Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in the two more-contagious variants of the coronavirus that have erupted in Britain and South Africa.

The results are reassuring, albeit preliminary, and not surprising to scientists who didn't expect a single mutation to defeat the shots on which the world has pinned its hopes. But the study marks just the beginning of continual monitoring to make sure that all the vaccines being rolled out around the world continue to work as the coronavirus, like all viruses, evolves.

“There’s no reason to think the vaccines won’t work just as well on these strains,” said Dr. Frederic Bushman of the University of Pennsylvania, who tracks how the virus mutates.

The mutated version circulating in Britain has also been detected in the U.S. and numerous other countries. That and the variant seen in South Africa are causing global concern because they appear to spread more easily — although how much more isn’t yet known.

Bushman, who wasn't involved with the Pfizer study, cautioned that it tested just one vaccine against one worrisome mutation. But the other vaccines now being used in the West — Moderna's and AstraZeneca's — are undergoing similar testing, and he said he expects similar findings.

That's because all the vaccines so far are prompting recipients' bodies to make antibodies against multiple spots on the spike protein that coats the virus.

“A mutation will change one little place, but it's not going to disrupt binding to all of them,” Bushman explained.

The new study looked at one modification to the spike protein that both variants share, called N501Y, that is believed responsible for the easier transmission. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if that mutation could thwart its vaccine.

They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large trial of the shots. Antibodies from those recipients fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study, posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers.

The findings have not yet been reviewed by outside experts, a key step for medical research.

But “it was a very reassuring finding that at least this mutation, which was one of the ones people are most concerned about, does not seem to be a problem” for the vaccine, said Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Philip Dormitzer.

Viruses constantly undergo minor changes as they spread from person to person.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press this week that the coronavirus variants don't appear to block vaccine-induced antibodies but that testing needed to be sure is underway in the U.S. and elsewhere.

British scientists have likewise said the variant found in the U.K. -– which has become the dominant type in parts of England — still seems to be susceptible to vaccines.

But the variant first discovered in South Africa has an additional mutation that has scientists on edge, one named E484K. The Pfizer study found that the vaccine appeared to work against 15 additional possible virus mutations, but E484K wasn’t among those tested. Dormitzer said it is next on the list.

South Africa has not started mass vaccinations.

If the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs adjusting — much like flu shots are adjusted most years — tweaking the recipe wouldn’t be difficult for vaccines made with newer technologies.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are made with a piece of the virus genetic code, simple to switch, although it’s not clear what kind of additional testing regulators would require to make such a change.

Dormitzer said this is only the beginning of “ongoing monitoring of virus changes to see if any of them might impact on vaccine coverage.”

But the coronavirus isn't changing as rapidly as other viruses such as flu or HIV, and its structure is more stable than the flu's, Bushman said, although that will need to be tracked.

“My guess is vaccination will stick longer and be more effective than it is for influenza,” he said.

____

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Capitol Police says officer dies after riots
The U.S. Capitol Police are reporting that Capitol Police Officer Brian D
12:43AM ( 5 minutes ago )
They love LA: Spurs snaps Lakers 4-game winning streak
A trip to Los Angeles proved to be just what the San Antonio Spurs needed to snap out of an early-season slump
12:38AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant
New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus
12:37AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US registering highest deaths yet from the coronavirus
The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the very day the mob attack on the Capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic
10:15PM ( 2 hours ago )
California virus deaths rocket higher as ICU space tightens
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and the state’s hospital association are at odds over how best to create space for critically ill coronavirus patients
9:50PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump finally faces reality — amid talk of early ouster
With 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump has finally bent to reality, acknowledging his electoral defeat amid growing talk in Washington of trying to force him from office early
9:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob
Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U
8:45PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump finally concedes -- amid talk of ouster from office
With 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump finally bent to reality on Thursday, acknowledging his electoral defeat amid growing talk in Washington of trying to force him from office early
8:31PM ( 4 hours ago )
The day my 'second home,' the Capitol, was overtaken by mob
Covering Congress is a privilege and a second home for longtime reporters such as Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press
8:13PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: China city offers rewards to root out untested
A city in northern China is offering rewards of 500 yuan ($77) for anyone who reports on a resident who has not taken a coronavirus test
11:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Mexico sees record coronavirus cases for 2nd day
Mexico continues to see record increases in coronavirus cases, with a 24-hour caseload of 13,734 confirmed infections setting a new high for the second consecutive day
8:39PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: UK to require coronavirus tests for all visitors
The British government  says that beginning next week all people arriving from other countries will have to provide proof of a negative coronavius test taken within the 72 hours before departure
7:15PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Health
Kim vows to improve ties with outside world at party meeting
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has underscored the need to drastically improve his nation's ties with the outside world
11:57PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Seoul court orders Japan to compensate 12 Korean sex slaves
A South Korean court has ordered Japan to financially compensate 12 South Korean women forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II
11:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
Asia Today: Australia cuts traveler numbers to stop variant
Australia is nearly halving the number of passengers allowed to arrive by plane in a bid to prevent the spread of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain
10:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Capitol Police says officer dies after riots
The U.S. Capitol Police are reporting that Capitol Police Officer Brian D
12:43AM ( 5 minutes ago )
They love LA: Spurs snaps Lakers 4-game winning streak
A trip to Los Angeles proved to be just what the San Antonio Spurs needed to snap out of an early-season slump
12:38AM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Capitol Police says officer dies after 'riots'
The U.S. Capitol Police are reporting that Capitol Police Officer Brian D
12:30AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Senior IOC member says he's not sure Tokyo Games will happen
A senior member of the International Olympic Committee has said he “can't be certain” the postponed Tokyo Olympics will open in just over six months
12:23AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Biden blames Trump for violence at Capitol that's shaken US
President-elect Joe Biden is denouncing the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorists” and he blames President Donald Trump for the violence that has shaken the nation’s capital and beyond
12:07AM ( 40 minutes ago )