UK health minister confirms talks with AstraZeneca over new variant vaccines

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Health Secretary Hancock holds coronavirus media briefing in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is in talks with Oxford and AstraZeneca for additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine that has been changed to better target the "beta" coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, health minister Matt Hancock said on Wednesday.

"We've started commercial negotiations with AstraZeneca to secure a variant vaccine: future supplies of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine that have been adapted to tackle the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa," Hancock said in a speech at Oxford University.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Costas Pitas)

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