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22 Dec, 2020 11:06

Mutation-beating vaccine can be ready in 6 weeks says BioNTech, but confident existing Pfizer jab works against new Covid strain

Mutation-beating vaccine can be ready in 6 weeks says BioNTech, but confident existing Pfizer jab works against new Covid strain

BioNTech’s chief executive has expressed confidence that the vaccine developed by the German company and US firm Pfizer will be effective against the new strain of Covid-19 found in the UK.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said the scientific community is confident that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will still be effective against the new and highly contagious strain of Covid-19. 

“Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant,” Sahin said. 

Sahin explained that the proteins on the new strain are 99 percent the same as with the original, and as a result, BioNTech has “scientific confidence” in the vaccine’s continued efficacy. 

The German expert claimed that in the unlikely event the vaccine doesn’t work against the British strain, it would be a relatively quick process to engineer a new jab.  

In principle the beauty of the messenger technology is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation – we could be able to provide a new vaccine technically within six weeks.

Also on rt.com Europe’s regulator approves Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for use in the EU

Sahin’s comments come after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved by the European Commission on Monday, and amid fear that a highly contagious strain of Covid-19 might render current vaccines useless. 

A new Covid-19 strain has been identified in the UK, which is reportedly 70 percent more contagious and has been linked to soaring cases across the country. 

Fear that the new strain, which has been present in the UK since September, could reach other nations has led to a widespread ban on Britons entering other countries, including France.

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