New research shows Pfizer can beat Covid variant

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as nurse Rebecca Cathersides administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Lyn Wheeler at Guy's Hospital in London. Britain races to vaccinate more than 15 million people by mid-February, and in an effort to ensure vaccines get to the right places at the right times, along with the syringes, alcohol swabs and protective equipment needed to administer them, the government has called in the army. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool, File)

Pfizer and partner BioNTech say in new research published Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine is likely to be highly effective against a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant first identified in Britain late last year.

In their research paper, which has yet to be peer reviewed, the companies say the variant, which led to strict lockdowns in Britain and global travel restrictions, was effectively neutralized by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Antibodies in more than a dozen patients over the age of 55 were reviewed for the study, they said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine works by building the body’s immune defenses against the coronavirus.

The research was posted to bioRxiv.

BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said the results of the study make it “very unlikely” that the variant will “escape” the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for use in the United States and abroad.

Researchers, however, said they’re still preparing for possible tweaks to their vaccine, if needed, to address further mutations of Covid-19.

BioNTech said it would take it about six weeks to come up with a modified vaccine.

Moderna and AstraZeneca, who both have vaccines in distribution, said they are also testing theirs against the new variant, as well.

A different Covid-19 variant has also appeared in South Africa, against which some researchers say the currently available vaccines are not as effective. CURRENTPH

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