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No evidence of virus mutations affecting vaccines

By Zhang Zhihao | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-12-31 14:08
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There is currently no evidence to prove that existing genetic mutations in the novel coronavirus can have a substantial effect on the potency of COVID-19 vaccines, Xu Nanping, vice-minister of science and technology, said in a news briefing on Thursday.

China has been closely monitoring the mutations and has devoted experts and resources to specifically tackling this issue, including setting up a database containing over 300,000 genomes of the virus from over 100 countries, he said during a news briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.

The data shows that the virus may be mutating slightly each day, but most of the mutations are neutral and do not change the virus in any significant way, Xu said. However, China is paying close attention to the new mutated strain found in the United Kingdom that was reported to be more contagious, he added.

"Based on our expert committee and preliminary research, we concluded that there is currently no evidence to prove existing mutations can substantially affect the COVID-19 vaccines," he said.

Nevertheless, Xu said the mutations having no effects on vaccines now does not preclude the possibility that they may have an effect in the future, especially when the virus is still accumulating mutations.

Therefore, China will remain vigilant on this issue as more vaccines are being rolled out around the world, he said.

"Even if there is a slight chance that mutations can affect vaccines, we have taken it as an absolute certainty and planned our research accordingly," he said.

"We have the confidence and plans to ensure the supply of safe and effective vaccines to the people."

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