Vaccine maker races to combat new coronavirus variants

AstraZeneca will try for emergency approval of its vaccine in the U.S. after scientists found this version of the vaccine has been effective against the U.K. variant. Charlie D'Agata reports.

Video Transcript

CHARLIE D'AGATA: In Oxford, England, where AstraZeneca tells CBS News they expect data from US trials in the coming weeks to present to the FDA for emergency approval, Oxford scientists say the vaccine has already tackled what had been the runaway UK variant here. Real life data showing it kept hospitalizations down by 94%, even outperforming the Pfizer vaccine.

ANDREW POLLARD: We've seen the first widespread use of a vaccine in a setting where there's a new variant that's emerged, and the vaccine has impact against that variant that is astonishing.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: The team here telling us they began the fight back against dangerous new variants months ago.

Development already in the lab?

SARAH GILBERT: Yes.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Including the South African variant?

SARAH GILBERT: Well, we started in December. We started working on new variants in December.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Oxford vaccine developer Professor Sarah Gilbert told us a modified vaccine could be rolled out in the US in a matter of months.

By the fall?

SARAH GILBERT: The plan is to have a new version of the vaccine available for the autumn, I would call it, of this year.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: The professor has told us that the 12-week gap between doses here in the UK is better than the four-week plan, which is standard in the US. More people are immunized in the short-term, and that reduces the chances of the virus mutating. Nora?

- Charlie D'Agata, thank you.