More good news for a world ravaged and exhausted by the coronavirus pandemic. BNT162b2, the vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE 1.43%) and BioNTech (BNTX 5.66%), demonstrated that it can neutralize a threatening new variant of the coronavirus. The results of a recent laboratory study testing the vaccine against the P.1 variant were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday. This variant is also known as Brazil because it's spreading rapidly through the massive South American country.
The study, conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech in cooperation with the University of Texas, found that BNT162b2 was effective against a version of the coronavirus engineered with mutations similar to those found on the P.1 variant.
While this development is certainly encouraging, the coronavirus continues to spread, spin off variants, and cause fatalities. As a result, Pfizer and BioNTech are remaining cautious. Pfizer said it will test a third booster shot of the vaccine, which is currently being administered in a two-dose regimen. The company added that it aims to put a retooled version of BNT162b2 specifically targeting another worrying variant, the so-called South Africa variant.
In December, BNT162b2 was the first coronavirus vaccine to garner Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is still being widely distributed and administered along with No. 2, Moderna's mRNA-1273. Late last month, Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine was granted the third EUA from the U.S. regulator.
Shares of both Pfizer and BioNTech rose on Tuesday. Pfizer's 0.3% bump lagged behind the 1.4% gain of the S&P 500 index, but BioNTech handily topped the benchmark with a 6.9% gain.