The co-founder of BioNTech said Tuesday it was "highly likely" that its vaccine against the coronavirus works against the mutated strain detected in Britain, but it could also adapt the vaccine if necessary in six weeks.
"Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant," said Ugur Sahin.
But if needed, "in principle 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."
There is growing alarm across the globe after scientists in UK described a newly identified variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants.
The new variant is being called VUI-202012/01 - the first "Variant Under Investigation" in the UK in December 2020. Even as scientists hunt for more information about the variant, its impact is already being felt – the mutation has been linked to a recent surge in cases in UK, and several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from the UK.
According to reports, the new variant of the Sars-Cov-2 could be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the old variant. But there are still several unanswered questions that are multiplying as fast as new strain of the virus: Does it make people sicker or does it mean that treatments and vaccines won’t work?