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

BEIJING: There is no sign 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.

“No need to panic,” Xu Wenbo, an official at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told state TV.

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

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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 effect the sensitivity of most Chinese-made COVID-19 tests that target the virus’ nucleic acids, which carry genetic information.

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