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UPDATE 1-Oxford scientists expect some vaccine data on UK mutant virus by next week

(Adds background on UK variant, rival vaccines)

Jan 27 (Reuters) - The University of Oxford expects efficacy data from a study of its COVID-19 vaccine against the British variant of the novel coronavirus by next week, a lead scientist said on Wednesday at a virtual meeting of a U.S. CDC advisory panel.

“Since the middle of December, that (UK) variant has been dominant and spread so rapidly. And so, we should be able to put together an analysis on efficacy against that probably by next week,” said Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Oxford University has developed the vaccine for the variant along with British drugmaker AstraZeneca. They will also work on a vaccine version that will target the South African variant of the virus, according to a media report on Tuesday.

British scientists have said the UK variant that is behind a surge in COVID-19 infections in the country may be not only more transmissible, but also more lethal - with a mortality risk around 30% higher than other variants.

The Oxford-Astra duo, once frontrunners, have been left behind in the vaccine race by Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc , which have both found their vaccines to be effective against the British variant.

There are also lingering doubts about the most effective dosage regimen for the Oxford-Astra vaccine.

Data published in November showed vastly different efficacy numbers for two different dosage patterns. A third regimen with a different efficacy number and time gap between doses was recommended by Britain based on its own analysis. (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)

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