Moderna’s Covid vaccine appears to be effective against new, more infectious variants of the pandemic virus found in Great Britain and South Africa, say scientists from the US pharmaceutical company

Early laboratory tests suggest that antibodies raised by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants

They have experienced changes or mutations that mean they can infect human cells more easily than the original version of the coronavirus that started the pandemic

Experts believe the British strain that emerged in September could be up to 70% more communicable

Current vaccines have been developed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, though perhaps not quite as well. There are already some early results to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine is before the new British variant protects

For the Moderna study, researchers looked at blood samples from eight people who received the recommended two doses of the Moderna vaccine

The results are yet to be peer-reviewed, but suggest that immunity to the vaccine will recognize the new variants

Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient antibodies to produce this neutralizing effect, although they were not as strong for the South African variant as they were for the British

Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South African variant is disappearing faster

Prof Lawrence Young, a virus expert at Warwick Medical School in the UK, said this was worrying

Like other scientists, the company is investigating whether redesigning the vaccine to better fit the new variants is beneficial

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said the company believes it is “imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves”

UK regulators have already approved Moderna’s vaccine for launch on the NHS, but the 17 million pre-ordered doses are unlikely to arrive before spring

The vaccine works similarly to the Pfizer, which is already used in the UK

More than 63 million people in the UK have already received a first dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine

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World News – GB – The Moderna vaccine seems to work against variants