Pfizer/BioNTech boss ‘confident’ vaccine WILL work against new Covid strain
THE scientist who co-founded the Pfizer vaccine says he is "confident" the jab will work against the new coronavirus strain.
Ugur Sahin said it was "highly likely" that the vaccine can also deal with the Covid variant – but it could also adapt the jab if necessary in six weeks.
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The proteins on the variant are 99 per cent the same as the original version, so BioNTech has "scientific confidence in the vaccine", he said.
"The likelihood that our vaccine works … is relatively high", he said.
The German expert clarified: "Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant."
But if needed, "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."
He said further studies will be needed to be completely sure the jab can provide protection against the variant – which first emerged in Kent in September.
But added that BioNTech, which developed its jab with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, hope to have certainty within the coming weeks.
It comes after the Prime Minister warned a new strain of coronavirus which is 70 per cent more contagious is spreading rapidly in the South East of England.
London and parts of southern and eastern England were rushed into the new Tier 4 lockdown regime at the weekend, effectively cancelling Christmas plans and imposing measures similar to the previous national lockdowns.
At a Downing Street news conference on Monday, Sir Patrick said: "I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country, and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced."
Scotland and Northern Ireland have already announced new lockdowns from Boxing Day, while Wales's tough restrictions will only be eased for Christmas Day before being reimposed.
Northern Ireland's Executive voted against imposing a travel ban on Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland overnight but did agree to issue guidance warning against all but essential travel.
But more positive news came from Boris Johnson, who said more than 500,000 people have now received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
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