Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine neutralises Brazil variant in lab study

The Brazil Covid-19 variant has been called a 'variant of concern by the World Health Organisation

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker prepares to dilute a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Singapore March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech was able to neutralise a new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Brazil, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Monday.

Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine neutralised an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, the study, conducted by scientists from the two pharmaceutical companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch, found.

The scientists said the neutralising ability was roughly equivalent the vaccine's effect on a previous, less contagious version of the virus from last year.

The spike, used by the virus to enter human cells, is the primary target of many Covid-19 vaccines.

In previously published studies, Pfizer had found that its vaccine neutralised other more contagious variants first identified in the UK and South Africa, although the South African variant may reduce protective antibodies elicited by the vaccine.

Pfizer has said it believes its current vaccine is highly likely to protect against the South African variant.

However, the drugmaker is planning to test a third booster dose of their vaccine as well as a version retooled specifically to combat the variant to better understand the immune response.