A study has found that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine successfully neutralizes the Brazilian strain of the virus, a mutation that has sparked concerns due to its contagious nature and ability to evade immunity from previous infection.
The study, conducted in a laboratory, was published on Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine. It saw scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch successfully combat an engineered version of the virus.
The P1 variant was first detected in Japanese travelers who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Manaus, Brazil. Due to unique differences in its spike protein, it can spread rapidly among those who come into contact with it, like the Kent variant, with scientists describing the Brazilian strain as a “variant of concern.”
Previous laboratory studies have found the Pfizer vaccine to be effective in protecting recipients from other strains, including the South African variant, although there were some fears that mutations could have a minor reduction on the protective antibodies received from the dose.
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Pfizer is currently exploring alterations that can be made to the virus or changes in the recommended number of doses, potentially adding a third booster shot, to help ensure maximum protection from new strains.
Since the Brazilian strain first emerged, it has spread to the UK, where six infected cases were identified, Japan were four travelers are thought to have brought it back to Tokyo, and a number of European countries that had arrivals from the Amazonas region.
The study is likely to boost interest in the Pfizer vaccine, with countries such as New Zealand and South Africa already favoring it over alternatives, like the AstraZeneca jab, which have shown lower protection against variants of the virus.
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