Health Desk- 23 Dec 2020: The company behind the Covid-19 vaccine being given to people in the UK says it is "highly likely" the vaccine will protect people against the new variant of the virus.
But if necessary, the vaccine could be re-engineered in a matter of weeks, BioNTech's boss said.
UK scientists discovered the variant after analysing a sharp rise in cases in the south-east of England.
They say it could spread up to 70% more quickly than other forms of the virus.
The new variant is thought to be present in many parts of the UK but is particularly concentrated in cases in Kent, Essex and London.
This is where the fastest rise in cases is being detected, with some areas seeing cases double in the past week.
The daily figures released by the government showed 36,804 cases reported in the UK - a record since mass testing began in the summer. Some 691 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were also recorded.