Pfizer and Moderna test their Covid-19 vaccines against new UK variant
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are testing whether their respective Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the new variant of the virus discovered in the UK, CNN reports based on statements by the two companies.
Moderna said that based on the data up until now, its vaccine would indeed protect against the new strain, but that it would “be performing additional tests in the coming weeks to confirm this expectation,” according to CNN.
Pfizer will look into how well blood samples from people who have received their vaccine could “neutralise the new strain,” they added.
BioNTech, a German company that developed the vaccine together with Pfizer, for its part has said that its laboratory is capable of producing a new vaccine in six weeks.
“In principle, the beauty of the messenger technology” that the vaccine is based on “is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics the new mutation,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said.
The new strain discovered in the UK is thought to be responsible for the rapid spread of parts of the UK which have had to move into stricter measures against the virus since Sunday.
There is no evidence that this new variant makes people sicker or that it is more deadly, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but it seems to be more infectious, possibly up to 70% more than the first version of the virus, he said.