Test results are expected this week from labs that are studying whether a variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain might pose a challenge to Covid-19 vaccines, according to a World Health Organization official.
Scientists in the UK and elsewhere have taken blood from people who have been vaccinated. They are testing those samples to see if the antibodies created by the vaccine protect against the new strain, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus response.
They’re also taking blood from people who have been infected with the new variant to see how well the vaccine works against it, Van Kerkhove said.
Pfizer and Moderna, the makers of the two vaccines authorized in the US, are working to see if the vaccine is effective against different variants of the virus.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the immune response from the vaccines was “very likely” to protect against the new variant.
The UK variant has 17 mutations, an unusually high number.
Scientists are also doing tests to assess the vaccine’s efficacy against a variant found in South Africa that has 22 mutations, Van Kerkhove said.