Moderna says vaccine should protect against UK COVID-19 strain

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Moderna said its vaccine will be able to protect people from a new, highly infectious strain of the coronavirus that is sweeping through the United Kingdom.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that it plans to run tests to confirm the vaccine’s efficacy against the strain, but expressed confidence it would do so.

“While we plan to run tests to confirm the activity of the vaccine against any strain, the broad range of potential neutralizing antibodies made possible by the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine provide confidence that our vaccine will also be effective at inducing neutralizing antibodies against them,” the company said.

“Based on the data to date, Moderna expects that the vaccine-induced immunity from the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine would be protective against the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus recently described in the UK. We will be performing additional tests of the vaccine in the coming weeks to confirm this expectation,” it said.

The Moderna vaccine was distributed across the U.S. last weekend and is the second U.S. company, along with Pfizer, to develop an approved vaccine to COVID-19. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious diseases expert in the U.S. government, received Moderna’s vaccine this week alongside several other officials.

The company’s announcement comes as a new strain of the coronavirus sweeps through the U.K. The country reported the highest number of single-day COVID-19 cases Wednesday since the pandemic began, and the prime minister has put several parts of England under the tightest possible restrictions to try to blunt the virus’s spread.

“After all the efforts that we’ve gone through to control this virus, and in many parts of the country, this virus is under control. Just as we’ve got a tiering system in place that was able to control this virus, we’ve discovered a new, more contagious virus, a variant which is spreading at a dangerous rate. And I know that the vast majority of people watching today and across the country understand what we need to do together to get through this,” Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said at a press briefing.

The U.K. has had about 2.2 million coronavirus cases, and more than 69,000 people have died there.

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