Pfizer Covid vaccine appears effective against mutant new variant found in UK

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The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is likely to protect against the new UK mutant strain of coronvirus, the latest research has revealed.

The latest lab study by the vaccine's developer showed the promising results.

Scientists found the Pfizer BioNTech jab does appear to work against the highly infectious variant of the virus, the US drugmaker confirmed on Wednesday.

The results are based on an analysis of blood of participants in trials, and add more extensive analysis than those released by Pfizer last week.

The new variant was first discovered in Kent shortly before Christmas.

It ripped through England's south east and London, spreading around the UK and other parts of the world.

How do you think the UK's vaccine rollout is going so far? Share your views in the comments below

Lab results say the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is likely to be able to combat the latest UK variant
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

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Last week, Pfizer said a similar laboratory study showed the vaccine was effective against one key mutation, called N501Y, found in both of the highly transmissible new variants spreading in Britain and South Africa.

The latest study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was conducted on 10 mutations, which are characteristic of the variant known as B117 identified in Britain.

Elderly and vulnerable people have been the first to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

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Among the 11 authors of the study are Ugur Sahin and Oezlem Tuereci, co-founders of BioNTech and husband-and-wife team.

Sahin is chief executive and Tuereci is chief medical officer.

The encouraging news comes amid warnings today the UK could still be in lockdown at Easter, despite the vaccine rollout.

The UK's elderly and vulnerable are being prioritised for the jabs from Pfizer and the Oxford AstraZeneca team.

Salisbury Cathedral is among the locations to have been transformed into a mass vaccination site
(Image: PA)

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The government said under-70s could begin receiving the vaccine this week, as the number of doses administered hit 4million.

More mass vaccination super-hub sites were opened this week, as health authorities ramp up efforts to meet the government's target to vaccinate 15million in the UK by mid-February.

But the vaccination drive is in a race against time as the UK is rocked by record daily deaths,and the NHS faces immense pressure.

Tuesday's daily toll of 1,610 was the highest recorded in one day in the entire pandemic.

The latest lab results on the vaccine mean
development would for now not have to start all over again.

For the test, blood samples drawn from 16 vaccinated participants in prior clinical trials were exposed to a synthetic virus called pseudovirus.

A patient receives an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine in Hertfordshire
(Image: PA)

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It was engineered to have the same surface proteins as B117, as characterised by 10 hallmark mutations.

The antibodies in the blood of the volunteers given the vaccine, known as Comirnaty, or BNT162b2, neutralised the pseudovirus as effectively as the older coronavirus version that
the product was initially designed for.

In recent days, the infection rates have begun to tail off in some Covid hot-spots, including London.

However key government figures have warned against complacency.

Asked if England's lockdown would be kept in place if infection figures dropped, chief science adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said on Wednesday: "The advice at the moment is vaccines are not going to do the heavy lifting for us at the moment, anywhere near it.

"This is about, I'm afraid, the restrictive measures which we're all living under and carrying on with those.

NHS staff administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19
(Image: Getty Images)

"The numbers are nowhere near where they need to be at the moment, they need to come down quite a lot further – we need to make sure we stick with it.

"You go for a walk in the park or something, life looks normal; you go for a walk in a hospital, if you work in a hospital, you will see life not looking normal at all.

"This is a really difficult, dangerous situation we're in, and we need to get the numbers down, so I don't see a release of these measures as being a sensible thing to do in the short term."