Pfizer Says It Hopes To Have Data In The Next Couple Of Weeks That Would Shed Light On ‘whether B.1.1.529 Could Be An Escape Variant’

Pfizer Says It Hopes To Have Data In The Next Couple Of Weeks That Would Shed Light On ‘whether B.1.1.529 Could Be An Escape Variant’

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1 hr 57 min agoVaccine scientists are already testing the new coronavirus variantFrom CNN’s Michael Nedelman and Frederik Pleitgen

Scientists at BioNTech have already started investigating the impact of a new coronavirus variant on its Covid-19 vaccine, with data expected within the next couple of weeks.

“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” BioNTech, the German company that partnered with Pfizer to make its Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement Friday. “We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest.”The new variant appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of South Africa and scientists are concerned that its unusually high number of mutations could make it more transmissible and result in immune evasion.

BioNTech said the upcoming data would shed light on ”whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally.”

For months, the heads of both Pfizer and BioNTech have said that the companies can adapt their vaccine, which uses mRNA technology, within six weeks and begin shipping first batches within 100 days, if needed.

2 hr 2 min agoWHO says it’s working to understand more about the new Covid-19 variantFrom CNN’s Naomi Thomas

World Health Organization’s technical lead on the coronavirus pandemic, Maria van Kerkhove gestures during an interview with AFP in Geneva on October 13, 2020. (Richard Juilliart/AFP/Getty Images)The World Health Organization is working to understand more about the new coronavirus variant, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said during a social media question and answer session on Thursday.

“We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations,” she said. “And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.”

The B.1.1.529 variant was detected by South African colleagues who reported it to the WHO, Van Kerkhove said, adding that there are fewer than 100 full genomic sequences available for it.

“What we need people to understand who are watching us, who are reading those news articles — these types of variants being detected, it’s good that they are being detected. It means that we have a system in place,” she said. Van Kerkhove thanked South African colleagues for doing “incredible” genomic sequencing and research, adding that they are planning to do neutralization studies to understand what impact that variant may have.

WHO’s technical advisory group on virus evolution will meet Friday to discuss whether the strain will become “a variant of interest or a variant of concern,” she said.

Van Kerkhove cautioned that the more the virus circulates, the more opportunities it has to mutate, saying that transmission needs to be driven down to reduce the possibility of more variants emerging. 

2 hr 29 min agoDow tumbles 900 points as fears over new Covid-19 variant grip global marketsFrom CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Wall Street is in a frenzy on Black Friday as stocks around the world tumbled in the face of a new Covid-19 variant.

US equities opened sharply lower and continued their downward path in the first half hour of trading, with the Dow more some 900 points lower. 

Oil prices were also badly hit. 

The new variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Belgium and Israel, prompting some countries to put flight bans in place.

1 hr 35 min agoHong Kong identifies second case of new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529From CNN’s Alex Stambaugh

People leave the Regal Airport Hotel at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong on November 26, 2021, where a new Covid-19 variant deemed a ‘major threat’ was detected in a traveller from South Africa. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)Hong Kong health authorities have identified a second case of the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant, after South African officials earlier identified one confirmed case in a traveler from South Africa to Hong Kong.

Genome sequencing analysis by the University of Hong Kong confirmed that both cases had “highly similar genetic sequences” and belonged to the newly emerged B.1.1.529 variant, the government said in a news release Thursday.

The two cases were identified among returning travelers on the same floor of a designated quarantine hotel, the Regal Airport Hotel.

Health authorities have ordered at least 12 people in nearby rooms who stayed from Nov. 11–14 to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing and an additional 14 days of quarantine at a government quarantine center. 

2 hr 37 min agoWelsh rugby teams leave South Africa as UK announces travel ban over new Covid-19 variantFrom CNN’s Becky Thompson in London

Welsh rugby union teams Cardiff Blues and Scarlets have announced they are returning home from South Africa after the country was added to the UK travel red list, following the discovery of an a

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Pfizer says it hopes to have data in the next couple of weeks that would shed light on ‘whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant’

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