A study of the Pfizer vaccine conducted on coronaviruses with variances in the spike protein, finds that the vaccine maybe effective on both the UK and South African variants of the virus.
Both the UK and the South African variant share a common mutation of the spike protein called N501Y, and is believed to be the cause of their faster spread.
The study published on an online researcher’s site on Thursday, conducted by researchers from Pfizer and University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, found that antibodies from people who received the Pfizer vaccine successfully fended off the virus variants in lab dishes.
The researches had taken blood samples of 20 people who received the Pfizer vaccine. The study itself is also yet to undergo peer review.
There is also concern if the vaccine is as effective on the South African variant because it has an additional mutation called E484K, which was not tested for in the study. 15 additional possible mutations were also tested along with N501Y but E484K was not among them.
However, Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Philip Dormitzer has said that E484K was next in line to be tested.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which has shown an efficacy rate of 95% in phase-3 clinical trials, trains the immune system to recognise the spike protein present on the coronavirus. As a result, the immune system produces antibodies when the real coronavirus enters the body.
Most vaccines that are being developed also use a similar technology involving the spike protein.
Mutations of the spike protein become a cause for concern as they may affect the efficacy of the vaccine and will require some re-engineering to maintain efficacy like the seasonal flu vaccine.