Does the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine work against the new strain?

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Vaccine rollout is underway in the UK and more than 10 million people have already received their first vaccine dose to date. However, the arrival of new Covid variants has prompted concerns about how effective the vaccines will be against the new strains. A new variant was recently discovered in the UK and has been widely dubbed the ‘Kent’ strain, while another variant found in South Africa is also raising concern.

Does the AstraZeneca vaccine work against the new strain?

Following the development of new Covid variants, studies are underway to determine whether the new strains could impact how effective the current vaccines are.

New research from the University of Oxford suggests its vaccine made in collaboration with AstraZeneca is effective at fighting the new UK strain of coronavirus.

Evidence suggests the vaccine has a similar efficacy against the new UK variant compared with the original Covid-19 strain.

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The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has also shown to be effective against the UK variant.

However, studies have shown the current vaccines may be less effective against the new E484K mutation, which is found in the South African variant of the virus.

Early results suggest the Pfizer vaccine is effective against both variants but is slightly less protective against the South African variant.

The vaccines are still thought to offer good protection against illness and severe disease, however, and further studies are taking place.

What if vaccines prove ineffective against future Covid-19 variants?

As developments over recent weeks have demonstrated, the Covid-19 virus has the potential to mutate again in the future.

However, with Covid vaccines now established, experts believe vaccines may be easily altered to protect against any new variants of the virus.

The UK Government has announced a deal with biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants of coronavirus.

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The Government says this partnership will allow the UK to quickly adapt vaccines in line with any future variations of the virus.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs appear to work well against the variants currently dominant in the UK.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We must be prepared for all eventualities.

“This will help ensure we can continue to provide everyone with a high level of protection against the virus and save lives.”

The Government has also said it will establish an expert advisory group to identify new variants which the UK could need to vaccinate against.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the partnership will allow the UK to “swiftly tweak” and rollout new vaccines in the future.

Mr Kwarteng said: “The UK’s vaccine programme has been a national success story so far, and we are determined to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be in the long term if new variants of Covid-19 emerge.

“This fantastic new partnership means we can work to swiftly tweak and roll out new variations of existing vaccines if we need to, while also building up Britain’s vaccine manufacturing base in the process.”

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