Thursday, January 27

Vaccine Manufacturers Begin Testing Efficacy Against New COVID-19 Variant

Leading vaccine manufacturers assess whether it will be necessary to make adjustments in their doses.

Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO – Major COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, reported this Friday that they are already testing the effectiveness of their products against the new variant detected in southern Africa.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech issued a statement in which they explained that their laboratories are already analyzing this variant to determine if their vaccine (one of the most used in the US and in European countries) might need some kind of “adjustment”.

For its part, Moderna warned that the mutations observed in the variant are “worrisome” and explained that he will test several booster doses of his vaccine to see what the reaction is.

Johnson & Johnson, which markets its vaccine in Europe under the name of its Janssen subsidiary, said it is already testing the effectiveness of its product “against the new fast-spreading variant that was identified in South Africa.”

Also the American Novavax and the British AstraZeneca said they were analyzing the effect of their vaccines against this new variant.

In parallel, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) considered this Friday “premature” to foresee if it will be necessary to adapt the COVID-19 vaccines “with a different composition” to deal with the new emerging variant of coronavirus, and stressed that the current information on the operation of this strain is “insufficient.”

“If it were shown that a new mutated variant evades immunity and spreads rapidly in places where the delta variant (now) predominates, it would be relevant to initiate activities related to the updating of vaccines”, admitted the European agency.

The detection of this new variant in South Africa worries the scientific community because it presents an amalgam of more than 30 mutations that, Although some have already been observed in other variants, such as the beta, this is the first time they have been seen together.

Fears of this new strain have led several countries around the world, including in the EU, to shut down air traffic from southern African countries, especially South Africa and Botswana.

The United States, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Canada, Austria and Israel are some of the countries that have temporarily suspended travel or announced that they will impose restrictions.

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