Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


German pharmaceutical company BioNTech says it's still unclear whether the current vaccine will be able to provide protection against the new UK variant of COVID-19, but "scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.

Ugur Sahin, chief executive at BioNTech said further studies are needed to be sure the current vaccine works against the new strain. However, if the vaccine needs to be adjusted, the company could do so in about 6 weeks, he added.


"We have scientific confidence that the vaccine might protect, but we will know it only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data and will, of course, publish the data as soon as possible," Sahin said.

In that case, regulators may have to approve the changes again before the shots can be used.


However, the company is confident that its recently EMA-approved coronavirus vaccine works against the new UK variant.

Sahin said that the proteins on the UK variant are 99% the same as on the prevailing strains, and therefore BioNTech has "scientific confidence" that its vaccine will be effective.


The variant detected mainly in London and the southeast of England in recent weeks has sparked concern worldwide because of signs that it may spread more easily.


While there is no indication it causes more serious illness, numerous countries in Europe and beyond have restricted travel from the UK as a result.