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MEPs threaten ‘TRADE WAR’ with UK over vaccine supplies

Tensions between the EU and UK over vaccine supplies escalated again today as inspectors were sent to check delays at an AstraZeneca plant in Belgium are real – and MEPs threatened ‘trade war’. 

As the row threatens to spiral out of control, there are claims officials have been sent from the medicines agency to the firm’s plant to check it genuinely has problems producing doses. 

It comes as the bloc tries to turn the screw on the UK-based pharma giant to bail out its shambolic vaccine rollout. European politicians warned the ‘consequences’ of refusing to divert stocks of the UK-made jabs to the bloc would be a ban on exports of the Pfizer version from Belgium – suggesting 3.5million doses due to arrive soon could be at risk. 

EU chiefs want more of the Oxford jabs – made in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire – be handed over to make up for a 75million shortfall on the continent.

The European Commission said the Anglo-Swedish firm was obliged to meet its contractual obligations despite production issues at its Belgian site.

So far both AstraZeneca and Pfizer look to be holding firm against the sabre-rattling from Brussels. 

But in an extraordinary move this afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon risked undermining the UK’s position by announcing she will publish details of the country’s vaccine supplies from next week. 

Despite Boris Johnson warning that the information must stay secret to protect the rollout, the First Minister – who wants Scotland to go independent and rejoin the EU – told Holyrood she will do it ‘regardless of what they say’. 

It comes after MEPs warned that the UK would ‘suffer’ for denying the EU, and the bloc’s health commissioner insisted Britain should not receive priority – even though it signed a contract with AstraZeneca three months before Brussels did.

Stella Kyriakides said: ‘We reject the logic of first come, first served. That may work in a butcher’s shop but not in contracts and not in our advanced purchase agreements.’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK will discuss ‘how we can help’ the EU’s vaccination effort. But asked if the UK might lose out because the EU has not got enough doses, Mr Gove said: ‘No. The programme of vaccination has been agreed and assured and the supplies were fixed some time ago and we will make sure that the vaccine programme proceeds exactly as planned.’

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘Of course it is the case that we will want to talk with our friends in Europe to see how we can help, but the really important thing is making sure that our own vaccination programme proceeds precisely as planned.’

While AstraZeneca has committed to ‘even closer’ co-ordination with EU officials, the company stuck firmly to its guns, saying it had been ‘open’ with the bloc about the ‘complexities’ of scaling up its vaccine production.

The firm also left a small but poignant sting in the tail, with a reminder to European leaders of its commitment to provide millions of vaccines to people across the continent ‘at no profit’ during the pandemic.

It comes as sources said Britain has enough vaccines to last this year and meet its targets and could end up distributing them to other countries anyway.

Meanwhile an industry insider rubbished fears Brussels may try to divert the UK’s vaccines as ‘political rhetoric’, but warned if it did it ‘would be a human rights issue for millions of people’.

In other developments:

  • Germany’s health minister has warned its shortage of coronavirus vaccines will stretch into April as the backlash against the EU’s bungling gathered pace;
  • Boris Johnson is visiting Scotland despite Nicola Sturgeon insisting that his trip is not ‘essential’ amid coronavirus lockdown;
  • French firm Valneva has started manufacturing a new vaccine in Scotland that is expected to deliver up to 60 million doses for the UK by the end of this year if it wins approval; 
  • The PM has announced schools will not reopen until at least March 8, with ministers plotting a phased exit from lockdown that could see non-essential shops back up and running in April, and pubs in May;
  • There is confusion over Priti Patel’s plans for all Britons to produce a written declaration that they are going for ‘essential’ reasons before leaving the country;
  • Mr Gove revealed that ministers will review today what countries are covered by new ‘quarantine hotel’ rules, even though they were only announced yesterday;
  • Latest figures showed 7.16million people have had a coronavirus jab in the UK, with over 1,400 sites in operation; 
  • The Children’s Commissioner warned mental health services for young people were hopelessly overstretched.

Boris Johnson is shown the Lighthouse Laboratory, used for processing PCR samples for coronavirus, during a visit to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow today

EU chiefs demanded that AstraZeneca jabs made in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire be diverted to make up for a 75million shortfall on the continent. Pictured: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen

EU chiefs demanded that AstraZeneca jabs made in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire be diverted to make up for a 75million shortfall on the continent. Pictured: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen

In an extraordinary move this afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon risked undermining the UK's position by announcing she will publish details of the country's vaccine supplies from next week

In an extraordinary move this afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon risked undermining the UK’s position by announcing she will publish details of the country’s vaccine supplies from next week

It comes as the German press (pictured inset: An article in Die Zeit) turned on Brussels yesterday as it denounced the EU's shambolic vaccine rollout as the 'best advert for Brexit'

It comes as the German press (pictured inset: An article in Die Zeit) turned on Brussels yesterday as it denounced the EU’s shambolic vaccine rollout as the ‘best advert for Brexit’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK will discuss 'how we can help' the EU's vaccination effort. But asked if the UK might lose out because the EU has not got enough doses, Mr Gove said: 'No.'

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK will discuss ‘how we can help’ the EU’s vaccination effort. But asked if the UK might lose out because the EU has not got enough doses, Mr Gove said: ‘No.’

Germany admits vaccine shortage until APRIL amid fury at EU bungling 

Germany’s health minister has warned its shortage of coronavirus vaccines will stretch into April as the backlash against the EU’s bungling gathered pace.

The grim message came as Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper described the problems around procuring supplies as a ‘scandal’. 

Jens Spahn said he wanted to invite pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers for a summit to make sure that Europe gets its fair share of doses. 

‘We will still have at least 10 tough weeks with a shortage of vaccine,’ he tweeted.

Mr Spahn said he recognised that producing vaccines was very complicated and building up production could not just be done in a few weeks if quality standards were to be upheld.

Earlier this week Germany supported EU proposals to set up a register of exports of COVID-19 vaccines, as tensions grow with AstraZeneca and Pfizer over sudden supply cuts just a month after the bloc started vaccinating citizens.

Vaccines WILL limit the spread of coronavirus – but we won’t know how by much until mid-February, experts say 

Britain’s vaccine roll out will limit the spread of coronavirus, but by exactly how much will not be made clear until mid-February, experts say.

Providing a boost to the UK’s hopes of ending lockdown, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said jabs ‘couldn’t fail to have some effect on transmission’.

He said it was less a question of ‘will they?’ and rather ‘to what extent’ will inoculation help to reduce the spread.

But Boris Johnson and his chief scientists tonight said experts won’t know much effect the coronavirus vaccines are having on the country’s epidemic until mid-February,

The PM said the impact of the jabs won’t be felt in hospital and deaths data until then due to the lag in time it takes between getting injected and developing immunity.

He told a Downing Street press conference tonight that he would not consider lifting lockdown restrictions until he’d seen concrete ‘evidence that those graphs are coming down’.

The immunisation drive has only really got up to speed in the last few weeks and it takes between a fortnight and a month for a person to build up immunity.

Both the Pfizer and Oxford University vaccines have been proven to block severe illness, so experts hope they’ll start to make a dent in the death and hospitalisation rates in the coming weeks.

No10’s scientists will be monitoring those metrics, specifically in the most vulnerable groups – including the over-80s, over-75s and care homes residents – who are currently receiving the jabs.

So far 6.8million, or one in 10, people in Britain have received at least one dose of the vaccines.

In three weeks time, when most of those people have protection, experts will expect to see a near 10 per cent drop in hospital admissions.

Not all of the people vaccinated will be immune, however, because the jabs are not perfect. Pfizer’s is 95 per cent effective at blocking severe disease, while Oxford’s is around 70 per cent. 

A prominent German MEP warned the UK would ‘suffer’ unless it agreed to the EU’s demands.

Peter Liese, who is in Angela Merkel’s CDU party, suggested Brussels could block shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which is made in Belgium.

He said: ‘The BioNTech vaccine, which is only produced in Europe and has been produced with the aid of the German state and European Union money, has been shipped to the United Kingdom.

‘If there is anyone thinking that European citizens would accept that we give this high quality vaccine to the UK and would accept to be treated as second class by a UK-based company, I think that the only consequence can be immediately stopping the export of the BioNtech (vaccine) and then we are in the middle of a trade war.

‘So the company and the UK better think twice. When we see Europe is not treated well, not by the United States and not by the UK, then we have to show our weapons.

‘We need to tell the other companies in the world if we treat the Europeans as second class, you will suffer for this.’

At a press conference last night, Boris Johnson dismissed the EU’s threats, saying: ‘We’re very confident in our supplies, we’re very confident in our contracts and we’re going ahead on that basis.’

AstraZeneca warned Brussels last week the problems in Belgium meant the bloc would receive only a quarter of the 100million doses it had expected by April.

A spokesman last night told MailOnline: ‘Our CEO Pascal Soriot was pleased to participate in a meeting this evening with the EU’s Vaccine Steering Board.

‘We had a constructive and open conversation about the complexities of scaling up production of our vaccine, and the challenges we have encountered.

‘We have committed to even closer co-ordination, to jointly chart a path for the delivery of our vaccine over the coming months as we continue our efforts to bring our vaccine to millions of Europeans at no profit during the pandemic.’

Government sources insist only once the AZ factories in Oxford and Newcastle-under-Lyme had fulfilled their commitment to the UK will they be free to supply other countries.

The UK signed a deal with AstraZeneca last May to supply 100million doses of the vaccine it developed with Oxford University.

EU nations placed a joint order for 400million doses from AstraZeneca three months later, in August, to be made at two sites on the continent, as well as the two UK sites.

The resultant 75million shortfall in the first three months of this year has caused a major row between the two sides.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘The fact is that we ordered the vaccine three months before the EU.

‘The EU are coming out with a very strange excuse for botching their procurement of vaccine at the moment.

‘They’re saying that the reason it took them three months longer than the UK to order the vaccine is because they were negotiating for better prices for and better value for money, which is ludicrous when the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, our own UK vaccine, is being produced at cost at £3 a dose subsidised by the UK taxpayer.

‘I don’t know how you get better value for that.

‘The EU then insisted on the contract that they did sign with AstraZeneca that they get delivery at the same time as the UK, which had ordered it three months before.

‘Obviously that’s going to be produced in Belgium at a new facility they’re setting up.

‘AstraZeneca made the EU aware that was going to be very difficult but they promised to make best efforts, that was in the contract.’

Aaron Bell, a Tory member of the Commons science committee, said: ‘I understand and sympathise with the EU’s disappointment that AstraZeneca is having yield issues at its Belgian plant, but the suggestion that the UK’s supply should be diverted to the continent is clearly inappropriate.’ 

Tensions rose when Astra chief Pascal Soriot told European newspapers in an interview on Tuesday that the supply schedule for the EU was not a ‘commitment’ but agreed as a ‘best effort’.

He said that as Brussels had signed its supply contract three months later than the UK it had left less time to sort out production ‘glitches’ at sites on the continent.

‘The contract with the UK was signed first and the UK, of course, said ‘You supply us first’, and this is fair enough,’ he added.

But yesterday, Miss Kyriakides flatly rejected the argument and demanded the vaccines being made in the UK for domestic use be exported to the EU.

At a briefing in Brussels, she said: ‘There is no hierarchy of the factories.

‘You are aware in the contracts there are four factories listed but it does not differentiate between the UK and Europe.

‘The UK factories are part of our advance purchase agreements and that is why they have to deliver.’

The commissioner said the EU was losing people to the pandemic every day, adding: ‘These are not numbers. They’re not statistics. These are persons with families with friends and colleagues that have been affected as well. 

‘We reject the logic of first come, first served,’ said Stella Kyriakides (pictured). ‘That may work in a butcher’s shop but not in contracts and not in our advanced purchase agreements'

‘We reject the logic of first come, first served,’ said Stella Kyriakides (pictured). ‘That may work in a butcher’s shop but not in contracts and not in our advanced purchase agreements’

EU officials have today demanded that Covid vaccines made in the UK be exported to Europe to help plug shortfalls in its own jabs roll-out, which is among the slowest in the world and is lagging well behind Britain

EU officials have today demanded that Covid vaccines made in the UK be exported to Europe to help plug shortfalls in its own jabs roll-out, which is among the slowest in the world and is lagging well behind Britain 

The EU’s health commissioner last night insisted that Britain should not receive priority – even though the UK signed a contract with Astra-Zeneca three months before the bloc did. Pictured: AstraZeneca office building in Brussels

The EU’s health commissioner last night insisted that Britain should not receive priority – even though the UK signed a contract with Astra-Zeneca three months before the bloc did. Pictured: AstraZeneca office building in Brussels

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Covid vaccine could soon be added to Britain’s arsenal

Johnson and Johnson will publish results from phase three trials of its one-shot coronavirus vaccine next week, the company announced last night.

The jab uses similar technology to the Oxford University vaccine, making it just as easy to transport and store, but requires just a single injection to protect against Covid.

Government scientists expect the vaccine, made by Janssen, the Belgian arm of the US pharmaceutical giant, could be given emergency authorisation and rolled out in Britain by mid-February. The UK has already struck a deal for 30million doses, with the option of ordering 22million more.

If approved, it would be the third Covid jab in the UK’s arsenal and could significantly speed up the programme which has been held back by supply shortages.

A fourth jab, made my US firm Moderna, sealed approval earlier this month but doses won’t arrive until March because of an exclusive deal with the American Government. Developed by Janssen, the vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to deliver genetic material that tricks the human body into producing proteins known as antigens, normally found on the coronavirus’s surface, helping the immune system develop an arsenal against infection.

Like the Oxford jab, which also uses adenoviral vectors, it can be stored and transported in normal fridges. However the key difference is that the J&J jab is designed to be effective as a single dose, whereas Oxford and Pfizer’s is given in two shots three or more weeks apart.

If trials show it is effective at blocking Covid, it will become the first approved jab to work in a single injection and could rapidly speed up mass immunisation plans. The 30million doses already ordered by the UK could be enough to reach almost half of the population.

‘Pharmaceutical companies, vaccine developers, have moral societal and contractual responsibilities which they need to uphold.

‘The view that the company is not obliged to deliver because we signed a best effort agreement is neither correct nor is it acceptable.

‘The 27 European Union member states are united that AstraZeneca needs to deliver on its commitments in our agreements.’

Following talks with AstraZeneca last night, Miss Kyriakides tweeted: ‘We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved.’ 

Tory MP Peter Bone said the EU was trying to cover up for its incompetence.

He added: ‘The EU has acted in a disgraceful way, to say ‘We want to jump the UK because we are the EU and important’ is unbelievable.

‘Hands off our vaccine, there is no legal or moral right to have it.’

It was also reported last night Britain had ordered enough vaccines for the year – of 367million doses, enough for 5.5 per person – and could end up dishing them out to other countries anyway – meaning EU countries would benefit.

A source told the Times: ‘There is plenty of vaccine. It exceeds what the government wants to do.’

The industry insider also told the newspaper the demands from Brussels were ‘political rhetoric’ and would be a ‘human rights issue’ if they did try to divert doses.

They said: ‘They cannot stop vaccines that are contracted for delivery. Some of these vaccines have already been given to people who are due to receive their second dose. It would be a human rights issue for millions of people if that process was stopped.’

Mr Johnson said it would have been a ‘great pity’ if the UK had stayed in the EU’s vaccine programme rather than set up its own plan.

‘I do think that we’ve been able to do things differently, and better, in some ways,’ the Prime Minister told MPs. More than a tenth of the UK population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

This compares to just 1.75 per cent in France, 1.96 per cent in Germany, 2.50 per cent in Spain and 2.15 per cent in Italy.

These set of graphs show the number of vaccines ordered by the UK and the EU. The EU has also ordered a number of other vaccines, including 300million Sanofi-GSK doses and 405million CureVac doses

These set of graphs show the number of vaccines ordered by the UK and the EU. The EU has also ordered a number of other vaccines, including 300million Sanofi-GSK doses and 405million CureVac doses

French drug giant agrees to produce Pfizer shot after its vaccine failed

French drugmaker Sanofi has announced it will help bottle and package 125 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech, after failures with its own vaccine delayed production until at least the end of the year.

The announcement came as production problems for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a vaccine from Britain’s AstraZeneca have caused political uproar across the European Union. 

The EU’s 27-nation vaccination effort has struggled to pick up steam, while more contagious virus variants are spreading fast and COVID-19 deaths are surging anew.

Sanofi’s Frankfurt facilities will help with late-stage production of vaccines prepared by Germany-based BioNTech, including bottling and packaging, starting in the summer, according to a Sanofi official. Sanofi did not reveal financial details of the agreement.

According to Thomas Cueni, director of the International Federation of Vaccine Manufacturers, 76% of the world’s major vaccine manufacturing capacity is in Europe.

The French government has pressed Sanofi to use its facilities to help make vaccines from its rivals, given the high demand and supply problems.

‘We are very conscious that the earlier vaccine doses are available, the more lives can potentially be saved,’ Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said in a statement.

Meanwhile experts revealed how Britain’s vaccine roll out will limit the spread of coronavirus, but by exactly how much will not be made clear until mid-February.

Providing a boost to the UK’s hopes of ending lockdown, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said jabs ‘couldn’t fail to have some effect on transmission’.

He said it was less a question of ‘will they?’ and rather ‘to what extent’ will inoculation help to reduce the spread.

But Boris Johnson and his chief scientists tonight said experts won’t know much effect the coronavirus vaccines are having on the country’s epidemic until mid-February.

The PM said the impact of the jabs won’t be felt in hospital and deaths data until then due to the lag in time it takes between getting injected and developing immunity.

He told a Downing Street press conference tonight that he would not consider lifting lockdown restrictions until he’d seen concrete ‘evidence that those graphs are coming down’.

The immunisation drive has only really got up to speed in the last few weeks and it takes between a fortnight and a month for a person to build up immunity.

Both the Pfizer and Oxford University vaccines have been proven to block severe illness, so experts hope they’ll start to make a dent in the death and hospitalisation rates in the coming weeks.

No10’s scientists will be monitoring those metrics, specifically in the most vulnerable groups – including the over-80s, over-75s and care homes residents – who are currently receiving the jabs.

So far 6.8million, or one in 10, people in Britain have received at least one dose of the vaccines. In three weeks time, when most of those people have protection, experts will expect to see a near 10 per cent drop in hospital admissions.

Not all of the people vaccinated will be immune, however, because the jabs are not perfect. Pfizer’s is 95 per cent effective at blocking severe disease, while Oxford’s is around 70 per cent.

Another burning question which will determine how gung-ho ministers can be with easing restriction is to what extent the vaccines stop people from spreading Covid.

The Government has commissioned a study to investigate the vaccines and their role on transmission, which is being overseen by Public Health England. It is focused on frontline healthcare workers who’ve been jabbed.

England’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told tonight’s Downing Street press conference: ‘I think you’ve got to be extremely cautious and wait until we’ve got proper data.

‘It’s too early to say what’s happening in the UK. It’s being looked at very, very carefully. You shouldn’t expect to see nobody getting ill who’s been vaccinated. Vaccines are not 100 per cent effective. We will still see people who get disease.

‘We will still see people who get severe disease, but it will be much, much reduced with the vaccine, and we need to wait and look at the data and get proper estimates of that rather than try to make early cuts and guesses as to what this is showing.’

Matt Hancock reveals nearly 80% of UK over-80s have now had a Covid vaccine as NHS rollout reaches 6.6MILLION people 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night announced that 78.7 per cent of Britons over the age of 80 have had a Covid vaccine as he confirmed 6.6million people have received their first dose.

That means nearly one in 10 people across the country has had at least one dose that could protect them against deadly Covid-19, and the Government is nearly halfway through its drive to hit 15million by mid-February.

Britain is ahead of all other countries in Europe in its vaccine drive and has one of the highest per-person rates in the world. But a Sunday slowdown meant that only 221,067 people received vaccines, down from a record high of 493,013 people on Saturday.

Department of Health figures showed 220,249 first doses and 818 second doses were administered across the country on January 24.

The Sunday slowdown is thought to have been triggered by fewer doctors and nurses being on shift on the last day of the working week, meaning fewer Britons could receive their jabs. The smallest number of cases and deaths is also generally recorded on Sundays, when more staff are off work and unavailable to tick off reports.

It comes as ministers battle to vaccinate the most vulnerable to the virus by mid-February. This includes the over-70s, vulnerable, care home residents and NHS frontline staff.

But the NHS appears to have already missed its internal target of reaching all care home residents by January 24.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last Thursday they had already vaccinated 63 per cent of care home residents – leaving another 154,660 out of an estimated 420,000 residents waiting for their jabs. But ministers are yet to say whether the NHS target has been hit.

Britain last night recorded another 22,195 infections with the virus, a 41 per cent drop on last week, and a further 592 deaths, down one per cent on the same time last week.

Moderna president Dr Stephen Hoge says the global fight against Covid will continue ‘for the next couple of years’ as the virus continues to mutate

By Jack Newman for MailOnline

The president of Moderna has warned the global fight against Covid could last for a number of years.

Dr Stephen Hoge said during a conference call this week that the virus will continue to mutate and create new strains despite vaccines being rolled out.

It comes as Moderna, which produces one of the vaccines approved in many countries around the world including the US and the UK, said its shots could offer protection against the prominent British and South African Covid strains.

The president of Moderna Dr Stephen Hoge has warned the global fight against Covid could last for a number of years

The president of Moderna Dr Stephen Hoge has warned the global fight against Covid could last for a number of years

Dr Hoge said, according to CNN: ‘The virus is going to evolve as long as it’s infecting.

‘The key thing we need to do is to stop it from infecting. We need to break that transmission and, secondly, stop those infections from lasting a very long time.’

He said this process will continue for years as scientists continue to analyze the changing virus.

He added: ‘I think as we look at the efficacy of any of these vaccines, we should hope and assume that they’re going to work across them, but we need to prove that case, time and time again.

‘Now, usually, probably just with measuring the vaccine’s ability to provide neutralizing antibodies in the blood, but in some cases over time we may need to go look at whether or not we’re actually protecting in the real world against some of these new strains. 

‘Until we’ve got this thing sort of fully suppressed and in control, and people are broadly vaccinated or seropositive and protected against it, it’s going to be an ongoing battle for the next couple of years.’

Moderna said its shots could offer protection against the prominent British and South African Covid strains

Moderna said its shots could offer protection against the prominent British and South African Covid strains

His comments come as Moderna announced it had found no reduction in the antibody response against the Covid variant found in Britain. 

Against the South African variant, it found a reduced response but still believed its two-dose regimen would provide protection.

The emergence of new variants in Britain, South Africa and Brazil has created some concern that mutations in the virus may make vaccines less effective.

Moderna said it is looking at whether a booster shot – either of its existing vaccine or of a new shot designed to protect against the South African variant – could be made available in future if evidence were to emerge that protection declined.

‘The virus isn’t going to stand still,’ Moderna President Stephen Hoge said on a conference call. 

‘It’s important that we remain vigilant and develop potential tools and countermeasures that would allow us to continue to beat back the pandemic.’

Moderna said it expects its current vaccine will remain protective for at least a year after completing the two-dose course. It does not expect to test a third dose until at least six months after that course is finished. 

Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a research note it was encouraging that the antibody response of the Moderna vaccine to the South African variant was still above the levels that provide protection.

Yee also said the speed with which Moderna was able to design a new booster shot candidate was proof of the flexibility of the new mRNA technology upon which it is based.

Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, said he was only mildly concerned the vaccine would not be protective against the variants.

A map based on genome sequences shows have different strains of coronavirus have spread around the world, with at least eight strains being tracked

A map based on genome sequences shows have different strains of coronavirus have spread around the world, with at least eight strains being tracked

‘It is a little worrisome that you see a lesser neutralizing antibody response, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are unprotected,’ he said, noting that even these lower levels may still be enough to protect against serious infections.

‘The goal of this vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital and to keep you out of the morgue. If you get a symptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection that is not a burden to the healthcare system,’ Offit said.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have also said tests showed their vaccine is effective against the variant found in Britain, but have not yet disclosed results against the South African variant.

That variant first found in Britain has caused a massive surge in cases there and has also been found in more than a dozen U.S. states. US public health officials expect it to be the dominant variant in the United States within six weeks.  


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