Vaccine boss says jab works against UK Covid variant but ‘more studies needed’

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The chief executive of BioNTech has said the German pharmaceutical company is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the UK variant.

However further studies will be needed to be completely sure, Ugur Sahin said.

A new strain of SARS-CoV-2 has been identified in some areas of south England, which could be up to 70% more infectious than the typical virus.

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Monday due to fears about a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages in the United Kingdom.

The discovery prompted the UK Government to cancel plans to relax social distancing restrictions over Christmas for those in affected areas.

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Mr Sahin told Bild TV that the German company would investigate the mutation in the coming days, but that he viewed the matter with "with a degree of soberness".

He was speaking shortly after the European Union cleared regulatory hurdles for the vaccine, co-developed with Pfizer, to be rolled out after Christmas.

The note of calm from the CEO about the UK mutation echoed the World Health Organisation, which cautioned against major alarm, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic's evolution.

Mr Sahin said he hadn't yet been immunised but would like to be. He said it was more important that his employees get the vaccine so they can continue to do their jobs.

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