‘No need to panic,’ China official says of coronavirus variants

There are no signs that the new coronavirus variants will affect the immune impact of a vaccine that China has just authorised for public use, a disease control official was quoted as saying on Friday.

The shot by an affiliate of state-backed company Sinopharm was approved on Thursday, the day after news of China’s first imported case of a variant spreading in Britain.

“The mutated variant, compared with previous mutated variants …. has no obvious change so far in its ability to cause disease,” he added.

He said no impact of variants on the vaccine’s immune effect had been detected.

The variant which British scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01” includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of COVID-19.

Xu added that mutation in the virus’ protein would not affect the sensitivity of most Chinese-made COVID-19 tests that target the virus’ nucleic acids, which carry genetic information.