LONDON: There are around 4,000 variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 around the world now so all vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc are trying to improve their vaccines, a British minister said.
Thousands of variants of the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have been documented as the virus mutates, including the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants which appear to spread more swiftly than others.
“Its very unlikely that the current vaccine won`t be effective on the variants whether in Kent or other variants especially when it comes to severe illness and hospitalisation,” Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News.
“All manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and others are looking at how they can improve their vaccine to make sure that we are ready for any variant – there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now.”
While thousands of variants have arisen as the virus mutates on replication, only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way, according to the British Medical Journal.
“We have the largest genome sequencing industry – we have about 50% of the world`s genome sequencing industry – and we are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to respond – whether in the autumn or beyond – to any challenge that the virus may present and produce the next vaccine,” Zahawi said.
The novel coronavirus – known by scientists as SARS-CoV-2 – has killed 2.268 million people worldwide since it emerged in China in late 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.