One of the most powerful weapons against COVID-19 variants may be a vaccine that the FDA has not yet approved.


London – One of the most powerful weapons against the worrying number of new coronavirus Variants in the United States and around the world may be a vaccine that the FDA has not yet approved.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization gave the green light to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be used internationally, and is already being distributed in countries around the world to help fight COVID-19. But AstraZeneca is awaiting the results of clinical trials in the United States, which it hopes to conclude in the next few weeks, before submitting its application to the FDA.

Meanwhile, encouraged by the fact that their vaccine is relatively easy to update, scientists at Britain’s Oxford University are modifying it in a pre-emptive strike to prevent new coronavirus variants from establishing, including the variant first discovered. time in South Africa.

“Plug and play”

Lead Designer Professor Sarah Gilbert told CBS News that her team has already been working for months on modifying her vaccine to address new coronavirus variants and hopes to have a new version ready in the fall.

The ability to light a dime is due to the “plug and play” platform used in the original Oxford vaccine, Gilbert said.

“You decide which antigen you want to use from the virus you want to make a vaccine against, exactly which version of it, and then you just insert it and you make your vaccine,” he said.

He also emphasized that because Oxford has its own biofabrication facility on campus, modifications can be expedited.

“We have established our pipeline,” he said. “We make the first vaccine stock seed at the manufacturing plant in Oxford. That’s just a few minutes from here on campus.”

Gilbert said that a modified vaccine, to take on not just the South African variant, but a number of worrying variants, could be rolled out in the United States in a matter of months.

“Amazing” impact

Even before modification, Oxford scientists say their vaccine is highly effective in combating the fugitive variant first discovered in the UK. Preliminary real-life data shows that it kept hospitalizations low by 94%, even beating the Pfizer vaccine.

“We have seen the first widespread use of a vaccine in an environment where a new variant has emerged,” Oxford Vaccine Group Director Andrew Pollard told CBS News. “The vaccine has an impact against that variant. That is amazing.”

Part of the reason for that success is the 12-week gap between injections in the UK, rather than the currently standard four-week program in the US, Pollard said.

“If you give that vaccine to many, many more people as the first dose, you will end hospitalizations and deaths immediately, while if you give two doses together, you will be selfishly giving those two doses to half the number of people. , what for that deployment and the protection of the population, “said Pollard.

With more than 500,000 people killed In the US, and new variants keep emerging, the need to fire more shots faster has never been greater.

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