LONDON: Oxford scientists are preparing to rapidly produce new versions of their vaccine to combat emerging more contagious COVID-19 variants discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday (Jan 20).
The team behind the vaccine from Oxford and AstraZeneca is undertaking feasibility studies to reconfigure the technology, the newspaper said, citing a confirmation from Oxford University.
The scientists were working on estimating how quickly they could reconfigure their ChAdOx vaccine platform, the report said.
AstraZeneca deferred to Oxford for comment. An Oxford spokesman said the university is carefully assessing the impact of new variants on vaccine immunity and evaluating the processes needed for rapid development of adjusted COVID-19 vaccines if these should be necessary.
Separately, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the nation's medicines regulator will be ready and able to give approval to new versions of COVID-19 vaccines designed to counter new variants of the coronavirus that may appear.
Recent laboratory tests have indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech is likely to work against the UK variant spreading around the world.
BioNTech has said it plans to publish a more detailed analysis of the likely effect of its vaccine on the South African variant within a few days.
AstraZeneca, Moderna and CureVac are also testing whether their respective shots will protect against the fast-spreading variants.