The current Oxford vaccine is also said to reduce transmission substantially.
With a number of vaccines for Covid-19 now approved, one of the leading vaccine developers has announced that it could be ready to roll out a vaccine to tackle the coronavirus variants by this autumn.
The team behind the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine has revealed that they are already working on the new vaccine after their results showed evidence of it reducing the chances of people catching and passing on the virus. In a media briefing hosted by AstraZeneca, Professor Andrew Pollard of Oxford University said work on designing a new vaccine for the coronavirus variants could be completed rapidly, by carrying out a few tweaks and small trials before the vaccine is rolled out.
Professor Pollard said: “I think the actual work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick because it’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein, for the updated variants. And then there’s manufacturing to do and then a small scale study. So all of that can be completed in a very short period of time, and the autumn is really the timing for having new vaccines available for use rather than for having the clinical trials run.”
Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, also added: “Our ambition is to be ready for the next round of immunisations that may be necessary as we go into next winter. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
With more than ten million coronavirus vaccinations now administered in the UK, scientists say there still remains strong evidence that the current vaccines work well against the mutations that have now emerged. Data from Oxford and AstraZeneca, which has not yet been formally published or reviewed yet, recently showed that its vaccine offered 76% protection up to three months after the first dose and could reduce transmission, which Health Secretary Matt Hancock described as “absolutely superb”.
With this level of effectiveness, this would mean the vaccine could significantly slow the spread of the virus, with the possibility of allowing restrictions to be lifted more quickly. Matt Hancock said this data from Oxford showing its vaccine substantially reducing transmission “will help us all to get out of this pandemic”.