London, Feb 3, (dpa/GNA) – Scientists are looking at how they can change certain vaccines so they can protect people against new mutations of Covid-19, Britain’s health minister said on Wednesday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the aim was to have another vaccine to protect people from new strains of the virus, such as the variant linked to South Africa, which some Britons have been diagnosed with despite not having recently travelled to the country.
His comments followed a Cambridge University study published on Tuesday which has not yet been peer-reviewed, which said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was « likely to be less effective » against the South African variant but was effective against the British variant.
“What we’re aiming to do is amend the vaccine so that there will, in future, be a vaccine that targets this specific mutation and other mutations that scientists advise, but that is a medium term [plan],” Hancock told the BBC broadcaster.
A ministry spokesperson told dpa this would apply to the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – as well as the one made by AstraZeneca/Oxford.
Last week, Moderna announced it was working on a new booster vaccine to address the South African variant.
Two days later, Pfizer announced both it and BioNTech were “prepared to respond” by creating another Covid-19 vaccine if a variant of the virus proved immune to its vaccine.
In the same statement, Pfizer stated it also found protection was lower against the South African variant with its vaccine, however it added it was a « small difference » which is « unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine. »