Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine provides effective protection against two new mutant variants that are rapidly spreading across the UK, according to new research.
The pharmaceutical company and University of Texas researcher ran laboratory tests on the strains, one found in the UK while the other was from South Africa.
The variants contain mutations, including N501Y, an alteration in the virus’ spike protein that is a target for vaccines.
The new study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, took blood samples from 20 people who had received the Pfizer vaccine. Laboratory tests showed that the samples had neutralizing levels of antibodies that were effective against the new strains.
Officials were particularly concerned about the new variant, found mainly in London and the south-east of England, as well as Wales, as it was found to be more transmissible than the original virus.
The variant is believed to be 70% more contagious, according to the Welsh government, and is now circulating in all parts of Wales.
However, officials say there is no evidence that it leads to a more severe form of the virus.
The rapid spread was one of the main reasons behind the Welsh Government’s decision to return Wales to national lockdown from December 20th.
According to the latest data from Public Health Wales, nearly 50,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccinations have been given across Wales.
This is the sum of both Pfizer BioNTech vaccines and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine administered.
The data for the week ending January 3 shows a total of 49,428 doses of the coronavirus vaccine were given to humans.
Almost all of these were first doses of the vaccine, given in two separate puffs. So far, only 25 people have received their second dose, which means they should now be fully immunized against the virus.