Amid concerns about the new, faster-spreading COVID-19 strain, researchers at Pfizer have said that their vaccine should still be effective at fighting the virus.
The new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, emerged soon after the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's vaccine and the country began distributing it around the country, leaving people concerned that the vaccine would not work against the strain. But a study from Pfizer released Tuesday said that it is "unlikely" that there will be any issues.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, tested a small number of blood samples from people who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine against a synthetic version of the new strain.
The researchers said that the antibodies produced by the vaccine were effective in "neutralizing" the strain, "making it unlikely that the B.1.1.7 lineage will escape" and resist the vaccine.
The results, while preliminary, assuaged fears that the vaccine will not work or will need to be reformulated. They also come as the new strain begins to take hold in the U.S. As of Jan. 18, the Centers for Disease Control has identified 122 cases with the B.1.1.7 lineage, although officials at the federal health agency believe that the actual number of cases is higher and growing.
The CDC said Friday that it expects the strain to become the dominant COVID-19 variant by March, potentially driving infections and deaths higher at a time when they are already well out of control in the U.S.
As of Jan. 20, nearly one year to the day since the first U.S. case was reported, more than 24,311,200 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 401,823 people have died from the virus, according to The New York Times.
To combat the virus and the new strain, the CDC urged Americans to continue to COVID-19 safety precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing, and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
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