UK invests in testing efficacy of variant vaccines

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The British government announced on Wednesday that it would invest to test the effectiveness of vaccines against variants and stay “one step ahead” of the virus.

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At the forefront of variant sequencing, the United Kingdom will release 29.3 million pounds (33.8 million euros) to increase the screening capacities of the military center of Porton Down (south of England), a said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

The latter will thus be able to process 3,000 samples per week, against 700 currently, to measure the level of antibodies generated by vaccines in order to develop sera against mutations in the COVID-19 disease more quickly.

“The increased testing capacity at Porton Down will ensure the UK stays ahead of the virus,” the ministry said.

The country, the most bereaved by the pandemic in Europe with more than 127,000 deaths, is also one of those where vaccination is the most advanced with 35 million people having received a first dose (two thirds of adults) and 15 million two doses (30% of adults).

If the long confinement imposed during the winter and the vaccination have greatly reduced the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the government fears the arrival of new variants resistant to the available vaccines.

It has maintained strict border restrictions for now. Holidays abroad are to be allowed again from May 17, but only a few countries are expected to benefit from quarantine exemptions, according to the British press, with authorities hoping to ease travel conditions for part of Europe. ‘here in July.