Scientists race to ensure vaccine works against new variant – as it is confirmed in three other countries
Scientists cannot yet be certain that the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out will be effective against the UK’s new Covid-19 variant, as it emerged it has also been identified in three other countries. Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said further studies were needed to look at the strain, which has been circulating in the South East since September and has a high transmission rate. She told the Andrew Marr Show: “So we can look at the structure – and we have looked at the structure very carefully, what the mutations do – and therefore the likely impact based on that knowledge of that structure. We won’t know for definite until we have further studies. “We are studying individuals who are admitted to hospital at the moment to determine how many of these may have this variant and is there differences in those who have the variant virus versus other viruses of this type? “The vaccine induces a strong, multiple response, immune response and therefore it is unlikely that this vaccine response is going to be completely gone.” On Saturday, Prof Chris Whitty said there was “no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is under way to confirm this”.
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