'Can make vaccine against new strain of COVID-19 in six weeks', says BioNTech
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the fears regarding the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus, which spreads much faster, German pharma giant BioNTech on Tuesday said that the company is confident that its vaccine will work against the new UK Variant of coronavirus, adding that if the vaccine is needed to be adjusted for the new variant, the pharma major could do it in six weeks.
BioNTech's chief executive, Ugur Sahin, as quoted by news agency AFP, said that further studies are needed to be completely sure that their vaccine candidate work against the new strain.
"We don't know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant," Ugur Sahin said, adding, "But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants."
"However, if the vaccine needs to be adjusted for the new variant, the company could do so in about 6 weeks. Though regulators might have to approve the changes before the shots can be used", he added.
The variant, detected mainly in London and the southeast of England in recent weeks, has sparked concern worldwide because of signs that it may spread more easily. While there is no indication it causes more serious illness, numerous countries in Europe and beyond, including India have restricted travel from the UK as a result.
The variant detected in Britain has nine mutations, rather than just one as is usually common. Sahin said that the proteins on the UK variant are 99% the same as on the prevailing strains, and therefore BioNTech has "scientific confidence" that its vaccine will be effective.
He said that their vaccine would be efficient because it "contains more than 1,000 amino acids, and only nine of them have changed, so that means 99 percent of the protein is still the same".
"But 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", he added further.
BioNTech's vaccine, developed together with U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer, is authorized for use in more than 45 countries including Britain, the United States and the EU
Posted By: Talib Khan