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Dec 22, 2020
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As dozens of countries around the world isolate the U.K. in a bid to contain a new, rapidly-spreading variant of Covid-19, leading vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are testing their shots against the strain and said Tuesday that they are confident their vaccines remain effective against the mutated virus although testing to confirm this may take weeks.

U.K. officials say the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible, though there is no evidence yet to suggest that it is more dangerous or able to make the virus less susceptible to vaccines, though further research will be needed to confirm this.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said he is confident the company’s vaccine will remain effective against the new variant, adding that “scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.”

The only way to know for certain if the vaccine is effective is “if the experiment is done,” Sahin said, a process that will take “about two weeks.”

Pfizer, who developed the vaccine with BioNTech, says it has already started “generating data” on whether blood samples from those vaccinated is "able to neutralize the new strain from the U.K."

In a statement, Moderna, the maker of the second vaccine approved for emergency use in the U.S., said that the data available so far indicates that “the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the U.K.”.

“We will be performing additional tests in the coming weeks to confirm this expectation," the company said.

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