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Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes Brazil variant in lab study

Mon 8th March, 2021 10:00pm
By Michael Erman
    NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 vaccine from
Pfizer Inc  PFE.N  and BioNTech SE  BNTX.O  was able to
neutralize a new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in
Brazil, according to a laboratory study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine on Monday.
    Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine
neutralized an engineered version of the virus that contained
the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly
contagious P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, the study
conducted by scientists from the companies and the University of
Texas Medical Branch found. 
    The scientists said the neutralizing ability was roughly
equivalent the vaccine's effect on a previous less contagious
version of the virus from last year. 
    The spike, used by the virus to enter human cells, is the
primary target of many COVID-19 vaccines.
    In previously published studies, Pfizer had found that its
vaccine neutralized other more contagious variants first
identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, although the
South African variant may reduce protective antibodies elicited
by the vaccine.
    Pfizer has said it believes its current vaccine is highly
likely to still protect against the South African variant.
However, the drugmaker is planning to test a third booster dose
of their vaccine as well as a version retooled specifically to
combat the variant in order to better understand the immune

 (Reporting by Michael Erman
Editing by Bill Berkrot)
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