Pfizer and BioNTech said that their Covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2 has been found to be effective against a key mutation found in two highly transmissible strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as per the results from an in vitro study.
The in vitro study, which was held by Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), demonstrated that the antibodies from people subjected to the vaccine could effectively work against the rapidly spreading variants.
Reported initially in the UK and South Africa, the Covid-19 variants have multiple mutations in their spike or S glycoproteins, which are main targets of virus neutralising antibodies, said Pfizer.
According to the US pharma major, although, the two rapidly spreading variants are different, they share the N501Y mutation located in the receptor binding site of the spike protein. The N501Y mutation helps in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to bind more tightly to its receptor, said Pfizer.
The company revealed that for determining if sera of people who were given the BNT162b2 can neutralise SARS-CoV-2 with the N501Y mutation, a virus with the substitution was created in UTMB’s laboratory.
It was found that the sera of 20 participants from the previously held phase 3 trial neutralised the SARS-CoV-2 virus with the N501Y mutation apart from neutralising the virus without the mutation.
Pfizer said that the key N501Y mutation does not provide resistance to the immune responses induced by the BNT162b2 vaccine.
The company stated: “Pfizer, BioNTech, and UTMB are encouraged by these early, in vitro study findings. Further data are needed to monitor the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 caused by new virus variants.
“If the virus mutates such that an update to the vaccine is required to continue to confer protection against COVID-19, we believe that the flexibility of BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA vaccine platform is well suited to enable an adjustment to the vaccine.”
The BNT162b2 vaccine has been authorised to be used across multiple countries including the US under emergency use for providing protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech signed a deal with the US government to supply an additional 100 million doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine.