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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.

Go deeper

Sep 19, 2021 - World

Cuba becomes first country to begin mass vaccination of children

A child receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a school in Havana on Sept. 16. Photo: Joaquin Hernandez/Xinhua via Getty Images

Cuba this week became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of children against the coronavirus, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The effort comes in response to a recent uptick in cases, which led Cuban officials to scrap plans to reopen schools earlier this month.

Updated Sep 19, 2021 - Health

Footage shows new details after NYC restaurant incident over proof of vaccination

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Three tourists were arrested after allegedly assaulting a New York City restaurant hostess when she asked for proof of their vaccination status before they could be seated indoors, the New York Times reports.

The latest: On Saturday, lawyers for the restaurant and the three women revealed that the tourists had in fact shown proof of vaccination and been allowed into Carmine's Italian restaurant, according to the Times.

GOP operatives accused of funneling Russian cash to Trump

Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters in the spin room after the CNN Debate on January 1, 2012. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump's reelection efforts.

The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul's niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.