Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found to be effective against Covid variant discovered in the UK

A picture taken on January 15, 2021, shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a phial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, stored at -70 ° in a super freezer of the hospital of Le Mans, northwestern France as the country carry on a vaccination campaign to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Jean-Francois Monier | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The coronavirus vaccine developed by PfizerBioNTech is likely to be just as effective against a highly transmissible mutant strain of the virus that was first discovered in the U.K., according to a study by the two companies.

The variant, known as B.1.1.7., was estimated to have first emerged in the U.K. in September 2020. It has an unusually high number of mutations and is associated with more efficient and rapid transmission.

The characteristics of the variant had led to concerns about the effectiveness of Covid vaccines against it.

However, research published Wednesday on preprint server bioRxiv showed “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity” between the laboratory tests on the original strain of the coronavirus and the variant known as B.1.1.7.

Authors of the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, warned the rapid spread of Covid variants worldwide required “continuous monitoring of the significance of changes for maintained protection by currently authorized vaccines.”

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