The UK Government and vaccine manufacturer CureVac have partnered to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new COVID-19 virus variants
Currently, both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are safe and effective against the COVID-19 variants, however, the UK government has partnered with CureVac in the event that a rapid response to the mutations is needed.
Under the new agreement, UK expertise on genomics and virus sequencing to allow new varieties of vaccines based on messenger RNA technology will be developed quickly against new strains of COVID-19.
CureVac Phase 3 clinical trials
Almost all vaccines developed through this partnership will be variants of an existing jab by CureVac which is currently undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials.
The UK has also placed an initial order for 50 million doses of new vaccines to be delivered later this year if they are required.
Business Secretary Kwasi 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 rollout new variations of existing vaccines if we need to, while also building up Britain’s vaccine manufacturing base in the process.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“The vaccines we are deploying now are safe and effective, with the latest evidence suggesting they provide protection against new strains of Covid-19.
“But we must be prepared for all eventualities and bolster onshore UK manufacturing capacity to develop vaccines to combat new variants of the disease, taking advantage of our world-leading genomics expertise.
“This will help ensure we can continue to provide everyone with a high level of protection against the virus and save lives.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said:
“While the vaccines currently being deployed in the UK appear to work well against the Covid-19 variants currently dominant in the UK, the virus continues to mutate and it is likely that our vaccines will have to adapt to continue to offer the best possible protection. Being able to create these new vaccines at speed will allow our scientists to keep ahead of the virus as they do every year with the influenza vaccine.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
“This is exactly the kind of work that will stand us in good stead as we continue our monumental national effort to end this pandemic and return to normality.
“Of course we urge people to continue to take up the chance to have a vaccine when they are invited to – all of which are safe and have been proven to be effective against the virus.”
Interim Chair of the Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said:
“Today’s agreement will mean the UK is better prepared for the emergence of any significant new virus variant.
“Because these mRNA vaccines can be rapidly adapted we will be ready to respond swiftly to new strains and update vaccines in the same way the flu vaccine is updated each year – a vital part of ending the pandemic once and for all.”
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