The new Covid vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech would begin to be delivered at the “end of this year, beginning of next year” if everything continued to go well, one of its creators said on Sunday. Last week, BioNTech and co-developers Pfizer said preliminary analysis showed their vaccine could prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting Covid-19. About 43,000 people took part in tests.
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Prof Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, told the BBC that the goal was to deliver more than 300 million doses worldwide by next April, which “could allow us to only start to make an impact”. He said the bigger impact would happen later, adding: “Summer will help us because the infection rate will go down in the summer and what is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate until or before autumn/winter next year.” If everything continued to go well, he said, the vaccine would begin to be delivered at the “end of this year, beginning of next year”.
Sahin said he was confident the vaccine would reduce transmission between people as well as stop symptoms developing in someone who has had the vaccine.
It was possible, he said, the vaccine could halve transmission which would have a big impact.
“I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine – maybe not 90 per cent but maybe per cent – but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread,” he added.
He said this winter would still be hard as the vaccine would not have a big impact on infection numbers.
Globally over 54,068,000 confirmed cases have been reported. The highly contagious disease, which emerged first in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed more than 1,313,000.
The US is the worst-hit nation with more than 10,908,000 confirmed cases and 245,600 deaths, according to latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The UK is expected to get 10 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered. The jab, which was trialled in six countries, is given in two doses, three weeks apart.
Older residents and staff in care homes are likely to be prioritised, followed by health workers and the over-80s. People would then be ranked by age, the BBC report said.
Asked if the vaccine was as effective in older people as it is in younger people, he said he expected to have a better idea in the next three weeks.
He said it was not yet known how long immunity would last after the second dose of the vaccine is given.
However, he said, a booster immunisation “should not be too complicated” if it was found immunity was reduced significantly after one year.
Sahin also said the “key side effects” of the vaccine seen so far were a mild to moderate pain in the injection site for a few days, while some participants had a mild to moderate fever over a similar period.
“We did not see any other serious side effects which would result in pausing or halting of the study,” he added.
His vaccine is one of 11 that are currently in the final stages of testing.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO said on November 9.
“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” Bourla said in a statement.
“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent Covid-19. This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort,” said Sahin last week.