Oxford University researchers working on a new coronavirus vaccine to combat the South African variant are hopeful it will be ready to use by autumn.
Oxford vaccine lead researcher Professor Sarah Gilbert said her team has "a version with the South African spike sequence in the works".
"It looks very much like [the new vaccine] will be available for the autumn. We're already working on the first part of the manufacturing process in Oxford, that will be passed on to other members of the manufacturing supply chain as we go through the Spring, and it looks very much like that we can have a new version ready to use in the autumn," Gilbert told the BBC.
Earlier, British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Saturday its vaccine developed with the University of Oxford appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of Covid-19, based on early data from a trial.
The study from South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University showed the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant, according to a Financial Times report published earlier in the day.
Among coronavirus variants currently most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.