UK minister says some vaccines might not work against SA variant

08 January 2021 - 11:45 By Reuters
The world's leading Covid-19 vaccine makers are rushing to see if their shots work against new mutations of the novel coronavirus found in SA and the UK. Stock photo.
The world's leading Covid-19 vaccine makers are rushing to see if their shots work against new mutations of the novel coronavirus found in SA and the UK. Stock photo.
Image: Sergey Chayko

British transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday there were concerns that some Covid-19 vaccines might not work properly against the highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus discovered in SA.

The world's leading Covid-19 vaccine makers are rushing to see if their shots work against new mutations of the novel coronavirus found in SA and the UK.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and SA, according to a laboratory study conducted by the US drug maker.

“The SA variant is worrying the experts because it may be the vaccine doesn’t respond in the same way or doesn’t work in quite the same way," Shapps told LBC radio.

“This SA variant is a very big concern for the scientists.”

The not-yet peer reviewed study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralising the virus with the N501Y mutation of the spike protein.

The mutation could be responsible for greater transmissibility, and there has been concern it could also make the virus escape antibody neutralisation elicited by the vaccine, said Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists.


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