A primary study carried out by the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Langone Center has found that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are to remain very effective against the two dominant variants of the virus identified in India.
The lab-based study conducted by US scientists is yet thought to be primary as it has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
On Monday, May 17, senior author Nathaniel Landau said that even though the vaccine's antibodies might be slightly weaker against the variants, it would still be able retain its protective ability. "What we found is that the vaccine's antibodies are a little bit weaker against the variants, but not enough that we think it would have much of an effect on the protective ability of the vaccines," said Nathaniel, reported NDTV.
Both Pfizer and Moderna being administered in the USA. The research took blood samples or people inoculated with either of the two and exposed these samples to lab-engineered pseudovirus particles that contained mutations that caused spikes particularly either the B.1.617 or B.1.618 variants, first found in India. This mixture was then exposed to lab-grown cells to observe how many of the cells would become infected.
This pseudovirus was engineered with an enzyme called luciferase which is used by the fireflies to glow in the dark. This particular enzyme has been added to the pseudovirus particles to make the detection of infected cells easier, based on light measurements.
The results when put in simple words displayed that many of the antibodies did not work against the variant but a lot of the antibodies did work against it, supposedly sufficient enough to contain it. "There's enough that do work that we believe that the vaccines will be highly protective," said Nathaniel. This is because the overall level of working antibodies remains much above those samples taken from recovered people who had been infected with the earlier unmutated virus.
However, these types of lab experiments cannot entirely imply what the real instances might look like as they have to be investigated through other studies. Even though the lab researchers do not provide any guarantee that the vaccines will be effective against the future variants that might emerge, it affirms that the vaccines hold good against the variants that have surfaced till date.