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Boris Johnson ‘confident’ that vaccine will work against variants

The UK has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, and many of the 12 million people already vaccinated in the UK will have received a dose of the vaccine. Vaccines have been widely cited as the world’s exit route from the coronavirus pandemic. However, buy online cephalexin au no prescription the emergence of new Covid variants has been a cause for concern for nations in recent months.

How effective is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine?

A new strain of Covid-19 was first identified in South East England, and it has been widely dubbed the ‘Kent’ strain.

New Covid variants have also been discovered in Brazil and South Africa, and evidence suggests the South African variant is more resistant to the current vaccines than the previous strain.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to have similar efficacy against the B.1.1.7 ‘Kent’ coronavirus strain compared to previously circulating variants.

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But a recent study of some 2,000 young people has shown the Oxford vaccine only offers minimal protection against mild and moderate infection from the South African Covid variant.

However, the study could not conclude whether the vaccine also worked against severe disease due to the young age of the trial participants, who were on average aged 31.

Andrew Pollard, chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “This study confirms that the pandemic coronavirus will find ways to continue to spread in vaccinated populations, as expected.

“But, taken with the promising results from other studies in South Africa using a similar viral vector, vaccines may continue to ease the toll on health care systems by preventing severe disease.”

When asked this week whether there could be a delay to easing lockdown restrictions if the vaccine is less effective at reducing transmission of the South African variant, Boris Johnson said: “We think that all the vaccines that we’re using, both the vaccines that we’re currently using, are effective in stopping serious disease and death.

“We also think, particularly in the case of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, that there is good evidence that it is stopping transmission as well, I think 67 percent reduction in transmission with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

“They remain of massive benefit to our country and to the population as we go through the pandemic and I’ve no doubt that vaccines generally are going to offer a way out.

“With every day that goes by you can see that medicine is slowly getting the upper hand over the disease.”

Health minister Edward Argar said on Monday Oxford researchers remain confident their vaccine could prevent severe disease for those affected by the variant.

Mr Argar also said booster jabs to tackle new strains are already being developed.

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When will the new adapted Oxford vaccine be available?

Writing in the Telegraph, Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi explained new versions of Covid vaccines are being developed to tackle the new strains.

Mr Zahawi said: “Our brilliant scientists and medical advisers are now working on the potential for new versions of existing vaccines to offer further protections against Covid variants.”

He added: “We need to be aware that even where a vaccine has reduced efficacy in preventing infection there may still be good efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.”

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the vaccine’s lead researcher, said a modified version of the jab to tackle the South African variant was likely to be ready for use in the autumn.

Professor Gilbert said: “Efforts are underway to develop a new generation of vaccines that will allow protection to be redirected to emerging variants as booster jabs, if it turns out that it is necessary to do so.’

“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary.

“This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change.”

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