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BioNTech, Moderna say approved COVID-19 vaccines should protect against new strain


BioNTech and Moderna Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), which have developed COVID-19 vaccines already approved in certain parts of the world, said their jab should ensure protection against the new strain of the virus.

BioNTech boss Ugur Sahin stressed that more tests will be needed to ensure the efficacy and it will take two weeks from now to get the data.

READ: People with severe allergies told to avoid Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after two NHS workers have reaction

In case adjustments are needed, the biotech, which is working with US giant Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFI), would need six weeks to complete them, though regulatory approval may be required before the rollout.

However, Sahin said that there is scientific evidence it works because the new mutation shares 99% proteins with previous strains of the virus.

“The likelihood that our vaccine works… is relatively high,” he was reported as saying by Sky News.

Similarly, Moderna confirmed on Tuesday it is carrying out tests against the new strain.

“Based on the data to date, we expect that the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the UK,” it said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab was the first to be approved in the UK, where around half a million people have been injected, and has also been given the green light in the US and Europe.

Moderna has started delivering its vaccine in the US this week after the Food and Drug Administration cleared it in the weekend.

Meanwhile, the inoculation developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) is expected to be approved in the UK by the end of the year, with doses ready as early as December 28.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to give the green light next week, triggering an immediate rollout, according to the Guardian.

Results from the last stage of trials were announced last month but the regulatory process was delayed after the consistency of the clinical data was questioned.

The formulation showed an average efficacy of 70%, with the trial generating a 62% success rate when volunteers were given two full doses at least one month apart, but the chances of being protected from the virus rose to 90% when a half dose was administered followed a month later by a full dose.

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