AstraZeneca's vaccine is expected to work on new COVID-19 strains, says CEO
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. Dado Ruvic / Reuters
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said his company's COVID-19 vaccine against mutant strains of the virus should "remain effective," reports the Sunday Times.
"But we can't be sure, so we'll test this," Soriot told the newspaper.
According to Reuters, a new strain of virus discovered in the UK can be up to 70% more transmissible.
At least 7 people in Japan tested positive for the new variant, reports The Associated Press.
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AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine is expected to be effective against mutant COVID-19 strains, including those discovered in the UK and South Africa.
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"So far we think the vaccine should remain effective," CEO Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times.
"But we can't be sure, so we'll test it," he told the newspaper.
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, in London in 2014. Neil Hall / Reuters
When vaccine bottles found their way around the world last week, news of mutated coronavirus variants also spread.
The first variant discovered in the UK had 23 documented changes. It could be around 70% more communicable and had infected around 40,000 people in the UK by mid-week, according to Reuters. The second variant was first found in South Africa but came to the UK last week, according to health officials.
"This new variant is very worrying as it is even more transmissible and appears to have mutated further than the new variant discovered in the UK," said Matt Hancock, UK Minister of Health, on Wednesday.
As the pressures spread, other countries closed their doors to British visitors.
According to Reuters, the new strain was discovered in Japan on Friday and brought back by travelers from the UK. About seven people, including five who had traveled to Japan from the UK, tested positive, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
According to The Associated Press, Japan is planning a comprehensive entry ban for foreigners on Monday, partly due to the new pressures.
Saying that AstraZeneca's vaccine will protect against strains of the coronavirus, Soriot Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, reiterated. There was a "relatively high" likelihood that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine would work against variants, Sahin said last week.
The UK government signed contracts for 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in partnership with Oxford University. This vaccine is the largest single contract from the government, which has signed contracts for 357 million doses of various vaccines.
By Christmas Eve, according to official statistics, about 617,000 people in the UK had received doses of Pfizers vaccine.
The UK government is currently reviewing AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines.
"The NHS across the UK is working incredibly hard to expand the vaccination program as soon as possible to ensure that everyone on the priority list can get their vaccine easily," said Nadhim Zahawi, the minister who oversees vaccine use.
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