Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) COVID-19 vaccine has shown a high ability to neutralize coronavirus strains first detected in Brazil, the U.K. and South Africa - another positive sign that vaccines could eventually bring an end to the global pandemic.
In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine published on Tuesday, lab experiments showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot demonstrated “roughly equivalent” levels of neutralizing activity against the Brazil and U.K. strains compared with a version of the virus from early last year.
It also showed “robust but lower” activity against the South Africa variant.
While the research needs to be validated with real-world data, it offers another reason for optimism that the COVID vaccines are generally performing well against variants of the virus.
The research was supported by Pfizer and BioNTech and performed by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
While vaccine developers including BioNTech are already working on new versions of their shots to combat mutant strains, the current generation of COVID shots are already showing some encouraging results against the variants.
AstraZeneca's (AZN) vaccine reportedly provides protection against the Brazil variant, Reuters has reported, citing the country’s Fiocruz biomedical institute.
The strain first found in South Africa, however, has at times been tougher to target. The country switched to using Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) shots last month for its initial inoculations after a small study showed the AstraZeneca shots had little impact on mild infections caused by the variant.
At last check, shares of Pfizer were up 0.92% at $34.66.