AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said on Sunday that the British pharmaceutical company’s vaccine is believed to be effective against the new coronavirus strain detected in the U.K. “So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to test that,” Soriot said when asked how the vaccine could hold up against the new variant of the virus. The Associated Press reports Soriot told the Sunday Times that researchers for AstraZeneca had discovered a “winning formula” to make its formula just as effective as Pfizer’s or Moderna’s, both of which have already been approved. The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be approved this week, the AP notes. ADVERTISEMENT “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Soriot said. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, was not initially believed to be as effective as its American counterparts, with partial results suggesting it is 70 percent effective at preventing illness, the AP reports. This new strain of the virus has elicited alarm across the globe, with many countries limiting or banning travel from the U.K. The variant is believed to be significantly more contagious than the pre-existing coronavirus strain, though it not believed to be more deadly or cause more severe symptoms. Moderna said last week it also believed its vaccine could effectively protect people against the new strain. One key difference in AstraZeneca’s vaccine is that unlike Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, it is not an mRNA vaccine. These vaccines teach immune systems how to create certain proteins that then trigger an immune response without introducing the actual virus into the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AstraZeneca's vaccine uses a weakened version of the virus itself to teach the immune system how to fend it off. The U.K. was the first Western country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, granting Pfizer's vaccine approval early in December. As of Dec. 24, over 600,000 have been vaccinated in the U.K., the AP reports.
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