Coronavirus vaccine being given in the UK is “likely” to protect people against the new variant of the virus, the company behind the vaccine said.
But, BioNTech’s boss said that the vaccine could be re-engineered in a matter of weeks if necessary.
Coronavirus vaccine has been developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. The vaccine has been approved by an internationally recognized regulatory body – the UK’s, in early December.
More than 500,000 people in the UK have been given the first dose of the vaccine.
Chief executive of BioNTech Ugur Sahin said at a news conference in Germany, “scientifically, it is highly likely that [the] immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant”.
He added that the company had the technology to refine its vaccine very quickly if it needed to.
“The beauty of the Messenger RNA 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, so that means a vaccine which contains this information,” Mr. Sahin said.
He also said that he didn’t know “at the moment” if their vaccine was able to protect against this new variant.
Genomics experts from the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) which discovered the new variant after examining a cluster of cases in Kent, also say it should not affect how well the Covid vaccine works.