A study led by Pfizer and BioNTech shows that the COVID-19 vaccine they developed is likely to be as efficient against a highly communicable mutant variant of the virus that was detected in the United Kingdom.

The new strain, identified as B.1.1.7, was approximated to have initially emerged in the UK in September last year. It has a strangely high number of mutations and is linked to a more effective and fast transmission.

According to a CNBC report, the new variant's characteristics resulted in concerns about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against the virus.

Nevertheless, the said report indicates that a study published bioRxiv preprint service presented no "biological substantial difference in neutralization activity" between lab tests on B.1.1.7 the virus' original variant.

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Science Times - Salisbury Cathedral Used As Covid-19 Vaccination Centre
(Photo : Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Staff prepare to give the Pfizer Covid vaccine to patients at the vaccination centre set up inside Salisbury Cathedral on January 20, 2021 in Salisbury, England. Yesterday, the British government announced that over 4 million people have received their first dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Mutations Linked to New Variants

The research, which has not yet undergone peer review, discovered that all of the mutations linked to the newly-detected strain were neutralized by antibodies in blood of around 16 participants who were previously provided with the vaccine.

50 percent of the participants ranged from 18 to 55 years, and the other 50 percent were between the ages of 56 and 85.

The study authors cautioned that the fast transmission of coronavirus variants all over the world necessitated constant monitoring of the substantiality of presently authorized vaccines.

This is the initial research of its kind to be completed by a major maker of COVID-19 vaccines. Other pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to perform tests on the efficacy of their respective immunizations.

Two other companies, AstraZeneca and Moderna, which developed a vaccine against COVID-19 in partnership with the University of Oxford, have also claimed their vaccines effectively protect from B.1.1.7.

Transmission of the Virus

Earlier this month, BioNTech CEO and co-founder Dr. Ugur Sahin said, the German Pharmaceutiacal firm was confident that the vaccine it developed would develop an immune response against B.1.1.7.

The company official also said that their vaccine should also prove its efficacy against the strain detected in South Africa, another highly-communicable mutation that has raised apprehensions.

His remarks came shortly following initial investigations shown by the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech that is seemingly an effective shield from a key mutation in the more contagious variants of the virus identified in the UK and South Africa.

To date, researchers from the said two companies have published a study that specifies that the vaccine is likely to be an effective shield from mutations linked to B.1.1.7.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, hopefulness about the mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide has reportedly been tempered by the growing rate of the spread of the virus.

Presently, over 97 million individuals have been infected by COVID-19, with more than two million deaths from the illness. Said data was collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier on, the same news site reported that a study also published in bioRxiv and had yet to undergo peer reviews proposed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine's efficacy in neutralizing what was called the "N501Y mutation." This mutation was reported in more contagious strains. 

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