Mar 9, 2021 - Health

Study: Pfizer vaccine neutralizes Brazil COVID-19 variant

Picture of a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine

Photo: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize a potentially more contagious variant of the virus that was first discovered in Brazil, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Why it matters: The results come as experts warn that several new variants — which are already present in the U.S. — could create a new surge in coronavirus cases and prolong the pandemic.

Details: People who were fully vaccinated were given an engineered version of the virus that had a similar mutation to the Brazilian strain. Researchers found that the neutralization of the strain was "roughly equivalent" to that of the original, less contagious strain of the virus.

  • The study also confirmed that the vaccine is effective against the U.K. variant of the virus.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine had previously released other studies that found that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were effective against that strain, per the Washington Post.
  • Researchers found that neutralization against the South African variant "was robust but lower" when compared to its effectiveness against the original strain.

Worth noting: Pfizer and BioNTech announced in late February that they will begin testing whether a third booster shot could more effectively neutralize the South African virus variant.

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