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Pfizer study suggests vaccine fights variant

NEW YORK — New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus.

Two variants — one discovered in Britain, the other in South Africa — share a common mutation that’s believed to be the reason they are more contagious. Called N501Y, it is a slight alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus.

Most of the vaccines rolled out around the world train the body to recognize that spike protein and fight it. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected its vaccine’s ability to do so.

They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine. Antibodies from those vaccine recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes. That’s according to the study posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers. It hasn’t been reviewed by other experts.

READ MORE: The essential COVID-19 vaccine FAQ