(WXYZ) — A new study suggests Pfizer’s vaccine is effective against the new coronavirus strains that are quickly spreading in Britain and South Africa.
Many health experts, including myself, have repeatedly said that the vaccines should still work against these new coronavirus strains. And this research certainly backs us up. Now the study was conducted by The University of Texas. Researchers took blood samples from 20 people who had been fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine. In a lab dish, antibodies from those samples were able to neutralize and fend off the mutated virus, which is fantastic. Now as was mentioned, this is preliminary, and not yet peer-reviewed, but it’s still very encouraging data.
The two new strains share a common mutation on the spike protein. It’s called N501Y. Scientists believe that this particular mutation is the reason why the two strains are more contagious. However, the strain in South Africa has an additional mutation. It’s called E484K. And while Pfizer has not yet tested its vaccine on it, it will soon. I expect that it’ll also work on this particular mutation. Just like Pfizer's vaccine was shown to be effective against 15 additional possible mutations.
Moderna believes that their vaccine will still protect people from the new strains of the virus, and the CEO recently said they are close to proving this. So hopefully we’ll hear more soon. Now, I’ve often been asked by my patients about what happens if a vaccine is no longer effective against COVID-19. We know that this is certainly possible because viruses are always changing. They tend to start out sloppy and make lots of meaningless changes. But they do learn and can get better at infecting new hosts. If this does happen, the vaccines will just get tweaked, much like what happens with the flu shot. But here’s what I really want folks to be aware of: pandemic fatigue. I know we’re all tired. But we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccines are being distributed and it’s possible that we can return to some sort of normalcy by late summer. So please stay focused, stay strong and continue to follow safety protocols.
Can Humanity Thrive on Another Planet? Join Dr. Nandi to learn about the future of human health and whether it will take place here on earth. Dr. Nandi discusses obstacles with an expert whose company is building machines to mine the moon for raw materials. Also joining the conversation is a Michigan State Professor who worked with NASA, he’ll explain what it takes to send humans to other planets. Tune in this Sunday, January 10th at 5 PM.