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EU to purchase more 300m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, research claims it might be effective against new strains

The European Commission has renewed a contract with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase an additional 300 million doses of their vaccine against the coronavirus disease, President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, January 8, 2021.

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

“As you know, we have right now access to 300 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

“Now the good news is, we now have agreed with BioNTech/Pfizer to extend this contract.

“With the new agreement, we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine,” von der Leyen said at a briefing.

She added that 75 million of those new vaccines would be available in the second quarter of the year, with the rest arriving in the third and fourth ones.

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The efficacy of the Pfizer Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine (official name BNT162b2) might sustain against the newly-detected mutant strains from the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa, a group of U.S. scientists said in a research paper.

The paper was published on the BioRxiv website for biology research on Thursday.

The research was conducted by scientists from University of Texas Medical Branch and funded by Pfizer and BioNTech, as stated in the Acknowledgments section.

“Rapidly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have arisen in the UK and South Africa share the spike N501Y substitution.

“We generated isogenic N501 and Y501 SARS-CoV-2. Sera of 20 participants in a previously reported trial of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 had equivalent neutralising titers to the N501 and Y501 viruses,” the paper’s abstract read.

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The website’s headline warns, however, that the report is preliminary and has not yet been peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive guidance to health care practices.

Announcing the discovery of the mutant virus in December, UK health authorities said it had been established up to 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain.

They did not provide any information on whether the new strain (501) was more deadly or harder on symptoms.

Another mutant strain, labeled 501.V2, was detected in South Africa at approximately the same time.

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