Vaccines being examined towards new virus pressure

Zurich/Frankfurt, Dec 22

Drug makers, including BioNTech and Moderna, are scrambling to test their Covid vaccines against the new fast-spreading variant of the virus that is raging in Britain, the latest challenge in the breakneck race to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Ugur Sahin, chief executive of Germany’s BioNTech, which with partner Pfizer took less than a year to get a vaccine approved, said on Tuesday he needed another two weeks to know if his shot could stop the mutant variant of the virus.

Moderna expects immunity from its vaccine to protect against the variant and is performing more tests in coming weeks to confirm, the company said.

The mutation known as the B.1.1.7 lineage may be up to 70% more infectious and more of a concern for children. It has sown chaos in Britain, prompting a wave of travel bans that are disrupting trade with Europe and threatening to further isolate the island country. — Agencies

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