Gilead Sciences has released a statement regarding the efficacy of its antiviral treatment Veklury (remdesivir), maintaining confidence in the its continued benefit against new COVID-19 variants.

The new COVID-19 variants were discovered in the UK and South Africa, respectively.

The UK variant, known as B117, was identified in the UK in early December, and was discovered to be much more transmissible than the original strain.

The South African variant, known as B1351 or 501.V2, carries a number of mutations and is also thought to be more contagious.

“We have completed genetic analysis of publicly available sequences for the UK and South African variants of SARS-CoV-2 and we believe remdesivir will continue to be effective against these variants,” said Gilead.

“The mutations identified in these new variants have not significantly altered the part of the virus that remdesivir targets or have any association with known mutations conferring reduced susceptibility of coronaviruses to remdesivir in vitro,” the company added.

Pfizer and BioNTech also announced this week that their COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be effective against the new UK strain.

Results from a new study conducted by the companies found that antibodies in the blood of 16 patients who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, also known as BNT162b2, were able to neutralise an in vitro version of the new variant.

“The preserved neutralisation of the pseudovirus bearing the UK strain spike by BNT162b2-immune sera [blood] makes it likely that COVID-19 caused by the UK virus variant will also be prevented by immunisation with BNT162b2,” the companies said in a statement.