COVID-19 Vaccine Elicits Antibodies that Neutralize Coronavirus Mutations

University of Texas Medical Branch, Pfizer, and BioNTech SE study shows the antibodies from people who have received the Comirnaty vaccine effectively neutralize SARS-CoV-2 mutation
vial of blood from a covid vaccine patient pictured in front of depiction of covid
Houston (Precision Vaccinations)

The results from an in vitro study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and Pfizer shows the antibodies from people who have received the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine effectively neutralize SARS-CoV-2 with a key mutation that is also found in two highly transmissible strains.

This study’s findings, published on January 7, 2021, are crucial as rapidly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have been reported in various countries, including the United Kingdom and the USA.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on December 28, 2020, 'Since November 2020, the UK has reported a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and has been linked to a variant of SARS-CoV-2.'

The CDC recently confirmed 52 cases of the mutated coronavirus in the USA as of January 7th.

The identified virus variants have multiple mutations in their spike or S glycoproteins, key targets of coronavirus neutralizing antibodies. Though the spreading viruses are different, they share the N501Y mutation. 

This mutation is located in the spike protein’s receptor-binding site and results in the virus’s spike protein binding more tightly to its receptor.

To determine if sera of people who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) could neutralize SARS-CoV-2 with the N501Y mutation, a virus with this substitution was generated in UTMB’s laboratory in Texas. The sera of 20 participants from the previously reported Phase 3 trial neutralized the virus with the mutation and the neutralized virus without the mutation.

While the virus tested in this experiment did not include the full set of spike mutations found on the rapidly spreading strains in the U.K. or South Africa, neutralization of virus with the N501Y mutation by the Comirnaty vaccine-elicited human sera is consistent with preserved neutralization of a panel of 15 pseudoviruses bearing spikes with other mutations found in circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains. 

This finding indicates that the key N501Y mutation found in the emerging U.K and South Africa variants does not create resistance to the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine-induced immune responses.

Pfizer, BioNTech, and UTMB stated in the press release ‘they are encouraged by these early, in vitro study findings.’ 

However, further data are needed to monitor the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 caused by new virus variants. If the virus mutates such that an update to the vaccine is required to continue to confer protection against COVID-19, ‘we believe that the flexibility of BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA vaccine platform is well suited to enable an adjustment to the vaccine,’ said the companies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated researchers had isolated the virus causing pneumonia in December 2019 and found it a strain of β-coronavirus. Viruses frequently change through mutation, and new virus variants can occur over time.

During 2020, the numbers of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 cases have varied from country to country, with multiple studies attempting to clarify the clinical differences said the WHO.

The experimental Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Still, the FDA authorized emergency use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older. 

The emergency use of the Comirnaty vaccine product was authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the medical product’s emergency use under Section 564 (b) (1) of the FD&C Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner. Please see Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine including Full EUA Prescribing Information available at Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

For more information, please visit BioNTech or Pfizer

PrecisionVaccinations publishes research-based vaccine news.