Pfizer and Moderna are testing their Covid-19 vaccines against the new fast-spreading variant of the virus that has emerged in Britain, CNN reported on Tuesday.
Moderna expects immunity from its vaccine to protect against the variant and is performing more tests in the coming weeks to confirm, the company said in a statement to CNN.
Pfizer, meanwhile, said it is “generating data” on how well blood samples from people immunised with its vaccine “may be able to neutralise the new strain from the UK,” according to the report.
Pfizer and Moderna did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The discovery of the new coronavirus strain sowed a fresh wave of panic in a pandemic that has killed about 1.7 million people and infected more than 77.15 million worldwide.
BioNTech: Covid vaccine for new strain in 6 weeks
The co-founder of BioNTech said on Tuesday it was “highly likely” that its vaccine against the coronavirus works against the mutated strain detected in Britain, but it could also adapt the vaccine if necessary in six weeks.
“It is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant,” said Ugur Sahin. But if needed, “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”.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which has said the situation is not “out of control”, will convene a meeting of members to discuss strategies to counter the new strain, its European office said on Tuesday. It did not give a date yet.
Meanwhile, at least five countries suspended flights from South Africa after a new and different coronavirus variant was discovered in the country. Germany, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia have announced a ban on flights from the southern African nation.
The Vatican said on Tuesday that Pope Francis will deliver his Christmas Day message indoors due to restrictions even as two cardinals close to the pontiff have tested positive for Covid-19.
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