China official rejects virus variant fears

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There is no sign new coronavirus variants will affect the immune impact of a vaccine that China has just authorised for public use, a disease control official says.

The shot, developed by an affiliate of state-backed company Sinopharm, was approved on Thursday, the day after news broke of China's first imported case of a mutated variant of COVID-19 spreading in Britain.

The variant includes a genetic mutation in the 'spike' protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of COVID-19.

"No need to panic," Xu Wenbo, an official at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told state TV.

"The mutated variant, compared with previous mutated variants .... has no obvious change so far in its ability to cause disease," he said.