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BioNTech expects more data on new Covid variant in 2 weeks for any vaccine ‘adjustment’


BioNTech, which developed the most widely used Covid-19 vaccine in the West and is in vaccine alliance with Pfizer, said it has started investigations on the new strain B.1.1.529.

BioNTech is expecting more laboratory data on the new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks in order to determine the efficacy of its vaccine, the German biotechnology company has said. BioNTech, which developed the most widely used Covid-19 vaccine in the West and is in vaccine alliance with Pfizer, said it has started investigations on the new strain B.1.1.529, reported Reuters. The Mainz-based firm added that more data on the virus variant would help determine whether the current shot would have to be reworked.

“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” the company said.

“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” it added.

Several European and Asian countries on Friday reacted swiftly to announce travel restrictions on southern Africa to prevent the spread of the variant with a high number of spike mutations. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, cautioned against a hasty approach, saying countries should take a “risk-based and scientific approach” when implementing travel measures.

“At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva. “The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures.”

(With agency inputs)

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