WHO Chief says 'concerning news' COVID vaccines may not work against novel strains

WHO Chief says 'concerning news' COVID vaccines may not work against novel strains
  • Clock-gray 08:20
  • calendar-gray 09 February 2021

In December 2020 a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 was reported in South Africa. The mutation, known as 501.V2, is said to be more aggressive and dangerous for young men. The highly transmissible new strain could also be resistant to existing COVID-19 vaccines, APA reports quoting Sputnik..

On Monday, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stressed that the emergence of new coronavirus mutations poses the problem of the effectiveness of existing vaccines. At a media briefing he suggested that it was "concerning news" that existing vaccines may not work as well against the new variant, first detected in South Africa.

Tedros outlined an essential need for vaccine manufacturers to upgrade their existing shots, saying booster shots would most likely be necessary as the new strain is quickly spreading throughout the world and could become the predominant coronavirus variant.

According to the WHO chief, South Africa's prohibition of the AstraZeneca vaccine following earlier reports that the drug does not protect against mild to moderate Covid-19 infections, is “a reminder that we need to do everything we can to reduce circulation of the virus with proven public health measures.”

He added that WHO will announce its decision on whether it will recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use “in the next few days.” If the drug is approved, poor countries will receive the shots under COVAX, a UN-backed effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

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