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Sarah Gilbert, a co-developer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told the BBC on Sunday that an updated vaccine will likely be available this fall to combat the COVID-19 strain first detected in South Africa.

Why it matters: The variant found in South Africa has concerned experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, and there have been several confirmed cases of the likely more transmissible strain in the U.S.

Driving the news: Researchers from Oxford and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa recently found that AztraZeneca's vaccine "provides minimal protection" against infection from the South African strain, Oxford said in a press release on Sunday. The analysis of roughly 2,000 adults not yet been peer-reviewed.

What they're saying: "We're getting prepared with different versions of the virus, and we'll be ready if we need to use them," Gilbert said, noting that the first part of the manufacturing process is already underway at Oxford and is expected to continue to other points of the supply chain through the spring.

"We see very much probably an annual or booster in the autumn and then an annual (jab), in the way we do with flu vaccinations where you look at what variant of virus is spreading around the world, rapidly produce a variant of vaccine and then begin to vaccinate and protect the nation," said Nadhim Zahawi, the U.K.'s vaccine minister.

Go deeper: What you need to know about the coronavirus variants

Go deeper

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Supreme Court: California can't ban indoor worship, but can keep 25% cap

U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court late Friday night lifted some restrictions on religious services in California spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, ruling the state cannot ban churches from holding indoor services, but can cap services at 25% capacity.

Details: The court ruled in two cases where churches sued the state over COVID-related restrictions, also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban on indoor singing and chanting.

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.