Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Effective Against UK Viral Strain: Study

January 21, 2021 Updated: January 21, 2021

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may be effective against the more transmissible CCP virus variant found in the United Kingdom that has spread worldwide, according to a preprint study that has not been independently reviewed.

The discovery of different variants of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus since the pandemic began has led to concerns about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, prompting Pfizer and BioNTech to conduct their own research, which was published on bioRxiv on Jan. 19.

The study evaluated whether serums of 16 participants who’ve been vaccinated in phase 1/2 trial could neutralize non-replicating SARS-CoV-2 (spike protein) pseudoviruses containing the mutation found in the UK variant B.1.1.7 or the Wuhan reference strain.

SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name of the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

A pseudovirus is an artificially made virus in a laboratory used in place of the more pathogenic live virus for research purposes.

The authors of the study found that there was “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity against the two pseudoviruses.”

While results are encouraging with the small samples in the study, the authors caution that “the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 necessitates continuous monitoring of the significance of changes for maintained protection by currently authorized vaccines.”

Scientists have yet to establish, for COVID-19 vaccines, what reduction in neutralization would require a vaccine strain change, like for the flu vaccine.

Public Health England reported (pdf) in December 2020 that they “found no statistically significant difference in hospitalization and 28-day case fatality” between the UK variant and the original CCP virus strand. “There was also no significant difference in the likelihood of reinfection between variant cases and the comparator group.”

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A person receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 16, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Adverse Reactions

Since the rollout of the vaccine program, reports have emerged of people experiencing adverse events, including death after receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Just this week, officials in Norway are investigating the deaths of 23 frail and elderly patients after they were immunized. All were aged 80 and older and many with underlying conditions. Around 40,000 people live in nursing homes in Norway.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency updated its guidance on COVID-19 vaccination that “very frail” people, including those who are terminally ill, should not get the shot.

Following the deaths, Pfizer and BioNTech said they are “working with the Norwegian Medicines Agency to gather all the relevant information.”

More than 42,000 Norwegians have received the COVID-19 vaccine as of Jan. 14.

While in the United States, 55 people have died after being inoculated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, according to reports made to the federal database, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Reports made to VAERS do not prove that an adverse reaction resulted from a vaccine since it’s not required to show proof of a vaccine injury for the report to be accepted in the system.

People also reported over 1,300 emergency room visits, 225 hospitalizations, and 24 permanent disabilities after receiving a COVID vaccine.

A spokesperson for Pfizer wrote in an email to The Epoch Times that the company “closely monitor[s] all reports following vaccination,” while Moderna didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Over 16 million people have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, although more than 35 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed as of Jan. 20.