The COVID-19 vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech can protect against a mutation found in two highly contagious variants of the novel coronavirus, according to a study released Thursday.

Scientists used blood samples from 20 people drawn two to four weeks after they received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to study the N501Y mutation found in the UK and South Africa.

Antibodies from those people were found successfully fighting off the mutation, said the study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with the support of Pfizer and BioNTech. 

“These variants have multiple mutations in their S glycoproteins, which are key targets of virus neutralizing antibodies,” it said. 

Scientists also found that the vaccine works against 15 possible virus mutations. However, E484K, another mutation found in South Africa, was not among those tested.

Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, said vaccines are designed to recognize multiple parts of the spike protein, which makes it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to block them.

The US still leads the world in COVID-19 figures with over 21.5 million cases and more than 365,000 deaths as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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