‘Highly likely’ vaccine works against UK strain, but could be adapted in six weeks, says BioNTech chief

‘Highly likely’ vaccine works against UK strain, but could be adapted in six weeks, says BioNTech chief
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  • calendar-gray 22 December 2020

The scientist behind the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has said he is confident that his candidate will work against the new variant of coronavirus detected in the UK, APA reports citing Independent.

Professor Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, said further studies were being conducted to assess whether the vaccine induces full protection against the new strain.

Should the jab need to be adapted the company could do so in about six weeks, Prof Ugur said, though regulators might have to approve the changes before the shots can be rolled out.

He admitted that "we don't know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant", but because the proteins that coat the outside of the virus are 99 per cent the same as the prevailing strains, BioNTech has "scientific confidence" in its jab.

"Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants," Prof Sahin told a news conference the day after the two-dose candidate was approved for use in the European Union.

The variant, detected mainly in London and the southeast of England in recent weeks, is thought to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible, according to UK scientists. 

Zumrud Pashkin

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