Pfizer, Moderna testing COVID-19 vaccines against UK variant

Pfizer and Moderna are testing their COVID-19 vaccines against a mutated strain of the coronavirus that first appeared in England, CNN reported. 

Moderna said: "We expect that the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the U.K.; we will be performing additional tests in the coming weeks."

Pfizer said it is generating data on how well blood samples from immunized people are able to neutralize the new strain, CNN reported. 

The strain hasn't been identified in the U.S., but the CDC said Dec. 22 that "given the small fraction of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected."

Assistant Secretary for Health, Adm. Brett Giroir, told The Hill: "We have every reason to believe that the vaccine will be effective against any variant that we've seen, including the new variant in the U.K."

Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, the German drugmaker that developed a COVID-19 vaccine  with Pfizer, said, "We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant. But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants," The Hill reported. 

He added that the company will need about two weeks to gather data to see if the vaccine is effective and that it could complete any necessary adjustments to the vaccine in about six weeks.

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