STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Lab studies suggest Pfizer, Moderna vaccines can protect against coronavirus variant

A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine can protect people against concer...

Posted: Feb 18, 2021 12:24 AM

A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine can protect people against concerning new coronavirus variants, including one first seen in South Africa called B.1.351.

For the study, researchers at Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch genetically engineered versions of the virus to carry some of the mutations found in B.1.351. They tested them against blood samples taken from 15 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

While the blood serum samples produced less neutralizing antibody activity, it was still enough to neutralize the virus, they wrote in a letter to the journal. This is in line with other studies. And it's well within what is seen with other viruses, one of the researchers said.

"Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against COVID-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant," Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch and an author of the study, told CNN.

"The reduction in the levels of neutralization against the South African variant of about 2/3 is fairly small compared to variations in neutralization levels generated by vaccines against other viruses that have even more variability in their protein sequences than SARS-CoV-2," Weaver added.

Pfizer said there is no evidence in real life that the variant escapes the protection offered by its vaccine. "Nevertheless, Pfizer and BioNTech are taking the necessary steps, making the right investments, and engaging in the appropriate conversations with regulators to be in a position to develop and seek authorization for an updated mRNA vaccine or booster once a strain that significantly reduces the protection from the vaccine is identified," Pfizer said in a statement.

Separately, a team at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna published a letter in the same journal outlining findings from an experiment they reported last month. They also reported a reduction in the antibody response to viruses genetically engineered to look like the B.1.351 variant -- but not enough of a reduction to make the vaccine work any less effectively.

"Despite this reduction, neutralizing titer levels with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels that are expected to be protective," the company said in a statement.

They found no reduction in efficacy against a variant first seen in the UK and known as B.1.1.7.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361240

Reported Deaths: 4318
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah56287712
Washington39109325
Marion37168457
Clackamas30096309
Lane28087306
Jackson23248310
Deschutes20680125
Umatilla14567151
Linn13113132
Douglas12237251
Josephine9451198
Yamhill8820114
Klamath8146122
Polk746481
Malheur568578
Benton559831
Coos510295
Columbia388144
Jefferson381254
Lincoln324139
Union321550
Crook296346
Wasco291941
Clatsop244828
Baker204529
Tillamook198033
Hood River195837
Morrow186623
Curry182725
Harney114727
Grant100213
Lake96012
Wallowa69312
Gilliam1594
Sherman1573
Wheeler1091
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4854041

Reported Deaths: 71417
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148510526549
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3678574183
San Bernardino3586775720
Orange3251235578
Sacramento1596362313
Kern1472941652
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921415
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen758747
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Brookings
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 52°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 52°
Klamath Falls
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 45°
Lingering showers today
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events