Moderna vaccine approved for use in United Kingdom as deaths reach pandemic high

Daniel Fowler
January 9, 2021

Montefiori said the British strain has eight mutations on the spike protein - the part of the coronavirus that the pathogen uses to invade a cell - that distinguish it from the dominant virus in the pandemic.

The research, which has been published on BioRx, was carried out by Pfizer in collaboration with scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch.

In the study, scientists engineered a version of the virus to include the mutation called N501Y. This second mutation, called E484K, may be even more critical than the one on the United Kingdom variant which it also shares.

In recent months, the Commission has sealed contracts with different manufacturing companies, including a major one to purchase in advance 200 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, the first to have received European Union regulatory approval.

The concern is that mutations in particular spots in the RNA genome of the virus could change the appearance of certain areas on the virus, making them less recognizable to antibodies elicited by the vaccines.

By acting in this way, Quebec says it wants to inoculate for the first time as many people as possible with priority groups.

It is not yet known whether vaccination can prevent people passing the virus onto other people. This could help explain why variants with the mutation seem to be more transmissible.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, whose USA headquarters is located in Cambridge, said Friday that antibodies found in people who received the vaccine appeared to neutralize strains of the virus that recently emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa and share a key genetic mutation.

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"So we've now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact". That indicates that this one mutation alone won't protect the virus from our existing weapons.

It is very important to remember that the manufacturers' recommendations, based on clinical studies and, I guess, discussions they have had with Health Canada, is that the second dose should be given as prescribed and should not not be pushed back unnecessarily.

At the end of December, a German health official confirmed in a press conference that Angela Merkel's government had signed a separate deal with Pfizer-BioNTech in September for 30 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Meanwhile, U.S. health regulators said Friday they think there is a low risk that the new variants could hurt the accuracy of hundreds of COVID-19 tests on the market.

"None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines now in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19".

Von der Leyen admitted a "bumpy road" at the start of the vaccine roll-out in the EU's 27 nations and spoke of more "difficult months" ahead to get it on track.

Speaking during a news conference in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement will double the amount of doses already ordered by the 27-nation bloc.

If anything, a mutation might reduce how well vaccines work, not render them ineffective entirely, experts stress.

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