Coronavirus in UK: BioNTech boss confident vaccine will work on mutant Covid-19 strain

BioNTech’s chief executive said he’s confident the vaccine will work on a new strain of coronavirus that is spreading at a fast rate across the UK.

The German pharmaceutical said further studies need to be done to be completely sure, but its “highly likely” that the vaccine can deal with new variants, Bloomberg reports.

Speaking at a news conference, Ugur Sahin said: “We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant, but scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.”

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According to Sahin, the proteins in the new strain are 99 per cent the same as the current one and therefore the company is confident the vaccine will work.

A person receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination centre in York. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that as of 8am on Saturday morning, 350,000 people had been vaccinated.

If the current vaccine needs to be altered to control the new strain, Sahin said BioNTech could adjust it in about six weeks, though it may not be approved before the injections are used, Bloomberg reports.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said evidence suggests the new strain, which has currently swept mainly across London and the southeast of England in recent weeks, could be 70 per cent more transmissible than the current variant.

While there is no indication it causes more serious illness, numerous countries in Europe and beyond have restricted travel from the UK as a result.

BioNTech's vaccine, which was developed with pharmaceutical company Pfizer, has been given the green light to be used in more than 45 countries including the UK, the United States and the EU.

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