Can come out with vaccine for new coronavirus strain in 6 weeks: BioNTech

The beauty of the messenger technology is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation, company co-founder Ugur Sahin said

covid vaccine
Representative photo: iStock

As the world worries about the mutated coronavirus found in the United Kingdom, the co-founder of vaccine maker, BioNTech, said on Tuesday (December 22) that it was “highly likely” that the company’s vaccine, developed along with Pfizer and now being administered as part of a vaccination drive in the country, would work against the new strain as well.

“The beauty of the messenger technology is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation — we could be able to provide a new vaccine technically within six weeks,” said Ugur Sahin.

Also read: Explained: All we know about UK’s ‘fast-spreading’ COVID virus variant

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Sahin was confident that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would work against mutated virus 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.”

“We have scientific confidence that the vaccine might protect but we will only know it if the experiment is done… we will publish the data as soon as possible,” he added.

The discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus caused panic across the globe. UK scientists said it is more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, the established variants. Scientists are busy gathering more information about the variant, but its effect is visible as the mutation has been linked to a recent rise in cases in the UK, even as several countries put curbs on people coming from Britain.

Reports suggest, the new Sars-Cov-2 could be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the old variant.

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