LONDON — The lead researcher of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine says she expects to have a modified jab to cope with the South Africa coronavirus variant by the autumn.
Health officials in Britain are trying to contain the spread of the variant first identified in South Africa, amid concerns that it is more contagious or resistant to existing vaccines.
Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher for the Oxford team, told the BBC that “we have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works."
Oxford University said Sunday that early data from a small study suggested that the current AstraZeneca vaccine offers “minimal protection” against mild disease caused by the South Africa variant.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.