Vaccine Tsar Trump Covid says “extremely low” chances of Pfizer and Moderna will not work against a new strain

Christy Ruffell, clinical care standards manager at UCHealth Medical Center, left, administers the Covid-19 vaccine to CNA Luis Perez, right, at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital on December 14, 2020 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Helen H. Richardson | The Denver Post | Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus vaccine tsar said Monday he expected Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 blows to be effective against a new mutation in the virus found in Britain.

The comment came after Britain said on Saturday it had identified a new mutation in the virus that could spread faster than previous variants. Countries including Italy, Germany, Canada and Israel have banned flights from the UK following reports of the new strain.

Mutations include changes in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells. Vaccines induce an immune response against several structures found around the spike protein, a multifunctional mechanism that allows the virus to enter the host, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Trump Warp Speed’s vaccination program, told reporters during a press conferences. The chances of a set of mutations completely altering these structures “are extremely low,” he added.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine use messenger RNA or mRNA technology. It is a new approach to vaccines that use genetic material – in this case, a harmless piece of spike protein – to elicit an immune response against the virus.

Herbie Severe receives the Covid-19 vaccine with the first batch of Moderna vaccine at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, on December 21, 2020.

Joseph Precious | AFP | Getty Images

Slaoui said he spoke with health authorities in Britain on Monday about the new strain. He has said so far that there is no “clear evidence” that the virus is easier to transmit than the original strain of the disease.

“There is clear evidence that there is more in the population,” he said, adding that the emergence of the new strain is also due to the fact that scientists are now able to track virus variants more quickly. Before scientists in the UK did not look for this option and the infections happened in the “shadow”, he said.

A safe and effective vaccine is seen by investors and policymakers as a solution to get the global economy back on track after the pandemic wreaked havoc in almost every country and business.

Americans are expected to receive some of the first photos of the Modern Vaccine Monday after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for emergency use on Friday. The United States will distribute 5.9 million doses of the vaccine nationwide this week, as well as 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use on Dec. 11, health officials said Monday.

This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.