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Pharmaceutical Company CEO Says It's 'Highly Likely' Vaccine Will Work Against New Covid-19 Strain

Pharmaceutical Company CEO Says It's 'Highly Likely' Vaccine Will Work Against New Covid-19 Strain

The new variant, which is wreaking havoc in the UK, is thought to be 70 per cent more contagious.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

The boss of pharmaceutical company BioNTech is 'scientifically confident' the coronavirus vaccine already produced will combat the new strain.

UK authorities have discovered a new variant of Covid-19 that is said to be up to 70 per cent more contagious than the one that has been around for a year.

The advent of the strain, which was first discovered in September, has caused scores of European countries to ban travel to and from Britain in the hopes it doesn't spread further.

However, it's believed the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech will still be effective.

PA

BioNTechchief executive Ugur Sahin 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 also can deal with the new virus variants.

"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."

His confidence is based off the idea that 99.9 per cent of the new strain is the same as the original virus.

If it's found the vaccine doesn't work against the new strain, Mr Sahin believes his company could whip up a new vaccine in about six weeks.

This specific vaccine has been authorised for us in 45 countries, including Britain, the United States and the European Union.

PA

The new variant is thought to be responsible for the rapid rise in cases that has seen London and some of the South East move from Tier Two to Tier Four of England's coronavirus restrictions within a matter of days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the planned relaxation of rules around Christmas would be scrapped for those areas at very short notice for the millions who had planned to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with up to three households between 23 and 27 December.

Health experts have said that while there is no current evidence the new strain of the virus is more deadly or resistant to the current vaccines, it could be as much as 70 percent more transmissible.

Within hours of Johnson's announcement, the Netherlands said they'd be stopping all flights from the UK into their country, stating that 'greater clarity' would be needed on the situation.

Italy's foreign minister has said they too will impose a ban on travel from the UK, and France and Germany are among a host of other countries thought to be planning to take a similar course.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News