Vaccines for new Covid strains can be made in weeks, say experts

According to a top scientist, vaccines to fight new coronavirus strains for laboratory tests could be made in just three weeks.

Professor Robin Shattock, head of Covid-19 vaccine research at Imperial College London, said scientists are working on vaccines that could counter new varieties like the one oncoming in South Africa.

After the redesign for laboratory testing, it could take two to three months to make the vaccines, he added.

Prof. Shattock, programmer for BBC Radio 4 Today, said, “Vaccine researchers around the world need to look at these new varieties and find new vaccine candidates against them so that we can study in the laboratory.

“And that’s a pretty quick process – we can go from making these changes to making a new vaccine in the lab in three weeks.”

“We already have one and are starting to study the immune response to it, to see if it is more effective against a South African tribe, for example, but also whether it can modulate the immune response of someone who already had a vaccine to match it To make boosters more effective to combat these variants as they arise.

“We can make these vaccines in the lab in a three-week process, but to actually make them it would take two to three months to get them into the manufacturing phase and in the clinic – it’s still pretty quick.

“And we need to remember that other changes may occur, but these vaccines will no longer work well or not at all. So giving three months to provide an update and develop a boosting strategy is very effective.”

Prof. Shattock said a new vaccine could be developed as an “annual booster”, adding, “This is an update that will then make the immune response effective against new variants that may appear between now and later in the year.”

He said scientists at Oxford University are already working on vaccines that will be effective against new variants.

If vaccines had to be adapted to control new strains, different technologies would take different timeframes to develop, as some are more “complex”.

He added, “If something changes and something new has to be introduced, we will likely see a similar race and different technologies will get there with different time frames.”


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