French Health Minister Olivier Veran told Europe 1 radio on Monday (December 21) that current COVID-19 vaccines should work against a new strain of the virus, recently found in the United Kingdom.
“At this stage we have not identified a variant of the virus against which the vaccines we have at our disposal today would not be effective, and this is good news,” Veran said.
He Tweeted that France will start its COVID-19 vaccination program next Sunday (December 27), starting off with the most vulnerable members of the population.
Europe’s medicines regulator will on Monday assess the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by U.S. company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech , with a green light to put Europe on course to start inoculations within a week.
Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed an effective lockdown on more than 16 million people in England and reversed plans to ease curbs over Christmas, saying Britain was dealing with a new coronavirus strain up to 70% more transmissible than the original.
Johnson and his scientific advisors nevertheless said they believe vaccines will still be effective, and added that the new strain is not more deadly or more serious in terms of the illness caused.