Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech.
Andreas Arnold | Image Alliance | Getty Images
LONDON – Daily life could get back to normal next winter, according to one of the developers of the highly anticipated Pfizer and BioNTech potential coronavirus vaccine.
Professor Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's co-founder and chief executive officer, also suggested that the vaccine could cut transmission of the virus in half, resulting in a "dramatic reduction" in the number of reported cases.
Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech said an early analysis of their vaccine candidate showed it was more than 90% effective at preventing Covid-19 infection in people with no signs of previous infection.
Approximately 43,500 people took the tests.
The effectiveness of the vaccine was significantly higher than scientists expected, suggesting Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, to explain the development: "A great day for science and humanity."
There are still major challenges before a vaccine can be introduced, but the news raised expectations that one could possibly be administered before the end of the year.
It is hoped that a vaccine can help end the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.31 million people worldwide.
"This winter will be tough. So this winter we will not have much influence on the number of infections with our vaccine," said Sahin from BioNTech on Sunday to the BBC "Andrew Marr Show".
"If everything continues to go well, we will start dispensing the vaccine by the end of this year, and we are aiming to dispense more than 300 million vaccine doses by April next year so we can get started." make an impact. "
Sahin said it was "absolutely necessary" to complete the vaccinations before next fall.
"I am confident that this will happen as there are a number of vaccine companies out there that are helping us increase supply so that we can have a normal winter next year."
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that while a vaccine seemed on the horizon, it may not be enough to eradicate the disease.
"I think we need to plan for this to be something that we may need to be chronically in control of. It can become something endemic that we just have to be careful about," Fauci said during a webinar hosted by think tank Chatham House was organized.
"It certainly won't be a pandemic for much longer because I believe the vaccines will change that."
A health care worker holds a syringe from the phase 3 vaccine study against the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) by the US company Pfizer and on October 27 at Ibni Sina Hospital at Ankara University in Ankara, Turkey developed by the German BioNTech company. 2020.
Dogukan Keskinkilic | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The comments come amid an increase in coronavirus infections in Europe and the US that are showing no signs of slowing.
Several countries in Europe have put national bans in place to contain the spread of the virus, and a number of US states have recently also taken stricter public health measures as infections continue to rise.
The United States has now registered more than 11 million cases of the coronavirus with 246,217 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The US, the country with the highest number of reported Covid-19 cases in the world, diagnosed its first coronavirus infection in Washington state on January 20. It exceeded 10 million cases on November 9, and hit the 11 million mark just seven days later.
How long does immunity last?
When asked if the vaccine was as effective in older people as it was in younger people, BioNTech's Sahin said the German biotech company will understand this better in the next three weeks.
He said it was not yet known how long immunity would last after the second of two vaccine doses.
Booster immunization shouldn't be "too complicated," said Sahin, if immunity was found to be significantly decreased after a year.
Some of the side effects of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine that have been reported so far were mild to moderate pain at the injection site for a few days, Sahin said, while some participants had mild to moderate fever for a similar period of time.
"As a scientist and based on extrapolation from what we've seen so far for other viruses, I would expect that being very effective in preventing disease means at least some effectiveness in preventing infection," Sahin told the BBC on Sunday.
"So I'm very confident that such a powerful vaccine will reduce transmission between people – maybe not 90%, but maybe 50%. But let's not forget that even that could dramatically reduce the spread of the pandemic. ""
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is one of several vaccines in the final stages of testing as drug manufacturers and research centers around the world seek a safe and effective vaccine.
Other US-backed front-runners include vaccine candidates from Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.