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Pfizer, Moderna testing their vaccines against UK coronavirus strain

Washington: Pfizer and Moderna are testing their coronavirus vaccines to see if they work against the new mutated version of the virus that’s recently been found in the United Kingdom and other countries, CNN reported.

“Based on the data to date, we expect that the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the UK,” Moderna said in a statement adding, “We will be performing additional tests in the coming weeks to confirm this expectation.”

According to CNN, Pfizer said it is now “generating data” on how well blood samples from people immunized with its vaccine “may be able to neutralize the new strain from the UK.”

Pfizer and Moderna make the only two coronavirus vaccines that have been authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The novel coronavirus has mutated before, and both companies say they’ve found that their vaccines worked against other variations of the virus.

Some researchers who are examining the genome of the UK variant told CNN they have concerns that this variant’s mutations might possibly “somewhat diminish” the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“You could imagine some modest hit in vaccine efficacy, which wouldn’t be good, but I don’t think it would break the vaccine,” said Trevor Bedford, an associate professor in the vaccine and infectious disease pision of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Monday said that a new Covid-19 variant linked to surge of cases in the United Kingdom is probably already in the United States.

“You have to make that assumption,” Fauci told PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff as quoted by CNN.

“When you see something that is pretty prevalent in a place like the UK, there are also mutations that we’re seeing in South Africa, and given the travel throughout the world, I would not be surprised if it’s already here,” he added.

He added that “when we start to look for it we’re going to find it.”

“Certainly it’s not yet the prevalent one, the way it seems to have assumed that prevalent nature in the UK, but we’re going to be looking for it right now, and I’m sure sooner or later we’re going to run into it and find it,” Fauci said.

The new strain of Covid-19 is “out of control”, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday.

“The only way you can do that is by restricting social contacts and essentially, especially in Tier 4 areas, everybody needs to behave as if they may well have the virus and that is the way that we can get it under control and keep people safe,” he added.

The new strain of Covid-19 is “out of control”, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday.

“The only way you can do that is by restricting social contacts and essentially, especially in Tier 4 areas, everybody needs to behave as if they may well have the virus and that is the way that we can get it under control and keep people safe,” he added.

Indian COVID-19 variant greatest threat to US pandemic response: US infectious disease expert Fauci

The Delta variant of the novel coronavirus that was first found in India is the greatest threat to the United States’ effort to eradicate COVID-19 in its borders, said U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Tuesday press call.

“The transmissibility is unquestionably greater” in the Delta variant than the original variant of COVID-19, Fauci said, adding that “it is associated with an increased disease severity.”

The Delta variant is becoming the globally dominant version of the disease, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Friday.

Fauci said that the vaccines authorized in the United States, including the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, are effective against the new variant of COVID-19.

“We have the tools, so let’s use them and crush the outbreak,” Fauci said.

The United States is falling short of its goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July 4 and will likely need a few additional weeks to hit that target, White House COVID-19 senior adviser Jeffrey Zients said during the press call.

Zients added that he expects 70% of adults over 27 years old will have had at least one shot by July 4.

More than 150 million people in the United States, or more than 45% of the population, have been fully vaccinated, according to federal data last updated on Monday.

The Delta variant contributed to a severe outbreak of COVID-19 in India during April and May that overwhelmed health services in the country and killed hundreds of thousands.