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Pfizer vaccine appears to be effective against UK coronavirus variant

Cubicles erected inside Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, for people to receive an injection of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Pic by Steve Parsons

By Nilima Marshall, PA Science Reporter

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against a coronavirus variant spreading rapidly across the UK.

The results come amid growing fears that the variant, dubbed B.1.1.7, has mutations that may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines designed to protect against Covid-19.

In a new study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from BioNTech collected blood samples from 16 people who had received the Pfizer vaccine in previous clinical trials.

They found that a lab-made version of the virus – with all the mutations resembling the B.1.1.7 variant – was neutralised by antibodies.

The researchers said their results indicate its is “unlikely that the B.1.1.7 lineage will escape BNT162b2-mediated (Pfizer/BionTech vaccine) protection”.

A similar study from the pharmaceutical giant earlier this month showed the vaccine to be effective against a key mutation called N501Y.

The mutation is present in the UK variant, as well as another highly transmissible new variant that has emerged in South Africa.

Pfizer said it had tested 16 different mutations in the variants and none had any significant impact on how the vaccine worked.

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