New Delhi, December 22: German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which has developed a vaccine against COVID-19 infection with US pharma giant Pfizer, on Tuesday said it can develop a vaccine against a newly-detected variant of coronavirus in six weeks. Ugur Sahin, a co-founder of BioNTech, also expressed confidence that their COVID-19 vaccine can work against the new strain of coronavirus as well. COVID-19 Vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech Gets Approval From EU Regulator.
"Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant," Ugur Sahin was quoted by news agency AFP as saying. But if needed, he added, "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." No Evidence That New Variant of Coronavirus More Deadly, Says WHO Official.
The new strain of coronavirus was detected first in mid-September in the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 19 informed the new variant is up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original version. Subsequently, more than 40 countries restricted travel to and from the UK in a bid to stop the transmission.
Sahin said the variant detected in Britain has nine mutations, rather than just one as is usually common. The vaccine developed with Pfizer would be efficient, he said, 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". He also informed that tests are being run on the variant and results are expected in two weeks.