The COVID-19 vaccine developed by German firm, BioNTech, in partnership with Pfizer, has been found to neutralise the South African variant of coronavirus, but with considerably fewer antibodies.
An in vitro study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the neutralisation rate for the more infectious strain was weaker by approximately two thirds.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch said it was unclear what effect that would have on the efficacy of the vaccine, since other factors were also key to the body’s immune response, such as the production of so-called T-cells.
“There is no clinical evidence to date that the South African variant virus escapes vaccine-elicited protection from COVID-19 in vaccinated people,” Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement on Thursday.
However, the companies added that they were “taking the necessary steps, making the right investments, and engaging in the appropriate conversations with regulators” to adapt their mRNA vaccine if a strain emerged that made it significantly less effective.