German pharmaceutical company, BioNTech, on Tuesday, said it is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the new mutated strain that was discovered in the UK, but further studies are needed to be completely sure.
The new variant which was detected mainly in London and the southeast of England recently has become a source of global concern due to possibilities that it may spread easily.
According to a report from Bloomberg, this disclosure was made by BioNTech’s Chief Executive, Ugur Sahin, during a news conference on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.
Although, there is no indication that it causes more serious illness, some travel restrictions have been announced by some European countries and others against travellers from the UK due to the new development.
What BioNTech CEO is saying
Sahin, during a news conference the day after the vaccine was approved by the European Union 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 can also deal with the new virus variants.”
He said that the proteins on the UK variant are 99% the same as on the prevailing strains, and therefore BioNTech has scientific confidence that its vaccine will be effective. He said,
- “But we will know it only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data. The likelihood that our vaccine works… is relatively high.“
Sahin also pointed out should the vaccine need to be adjusted for the new variant, the pharmaceutical company could do so in about 6 weeks; although regulators might have to approve the changes before the shots can be used. This could be a setback for the planned rollout of the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus pandemic.
What you should know
- BioNTech’s vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, was certified 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection in the final study and has been authorized for use in over 45 countries including the UK, the United States and the EU.
- Hundreds of thousands of people have already received the shots with the rollout of vaccination already going on in the United States and the UK, with the several EU joining soon.
- The Chief Commercial Officer of BioNTech, Sean Marett, said that all countries across the EU that have requested for the vaccine will get them within the next 5 days for the first supply and then followed up with further supplies the upper week.