Britain secures 50 million doses of vaccines for new Covid-19 variants

LONDON (REUTERS) – Britain has agreed an initial supply of 50 million doses of vaccines for new variants, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday (Feb 8), although he added that evidence showed the shots already being deployed had some effect against the mutations.

“The evidence is that the existing vaccines have some effect against new variants, particularly preventing serious illness and mortality,” Hancock told a news briefing on Monday.

He said Britain had entered into a partnership with the manufacturer CureVac to develop vaccines that could be quickly adapted as new strains were identified.

“We’ve agreed an initial supply of 50 million doses to add to the 400 million doses that are already in our vaccine portfolio,” he said.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam meanwhile urged people to take the Covid-19 vaccination if offered, saying that a so-called South African variant of the disease would not overtake the current virus in the next few months.

Britain’s government are increasingly concerned that people might decide not to get vaccinated now because they believe that new vaccinations will have to be made to tackle new variants.

“Early data on modelling … does not suggest that the South African variant has a distinct transmissibility advantage over our current virus, and because of that there is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months,” he told a news conference on Monday.

“Please don’t delay if you’re called, take the advantage to protect yourself against the … immediate threat.”

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