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New study suggest the COVID-19 vaccine works against more contagious variant

A more contagious variant of COVID-19 first found in the UK has now been discovered here in Harris County.

HOUSTON — The entire world had been waiting for months for a vaccine against COVID-19. But now that we have them, how effective are they with these new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa that spread more rapidly.

Pfizer and BioNTech just published some results of a study done here at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where scientists looked at this new variant. They ran some tests and compared them to human clinical samples they already had in the lab.

"What we found is that these mutations don’t significantly change the neutralizing activity of the specimens we tested," said Pei-Yong Shi, PhD UTMB professor, John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Innovations in Molecular Biology.

RELATED: More contagious variant of COVID-19 first seen in UK confirmed in Harris County; first case in Texas

This is good news. The scientists say it means the vaccines work against these virus variants, but they tell us they’re not done yet. More research still needs to be done.

"We need to a do a more comprehensive studies, so far we are looking at other mutations and you want to look at the combinations," said Shi.

Scientists here at UTMB say they will continue monitoring this closely and make changes if they are necessary.

"It would be very easy to redesign the sequence if there is a need for a new sequence," said Shi.

If you would like to read the study:

Rapidly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have arisen in the United Kingdom and South Africa share the spike N501Y substitution, which is of particular concern because it is located in the viral receptor binding site for cell entry and increases binding to the receptor (angiotensin converting enzyme 2).