Uğur Şahin, chief executive of BioNTech, said he expected further analysis to show that the jab is also effective in stopping the spread of the disease – but probably not up to 90%. Certainty about its impact will only come next year, he added.
Şahin, who was interviewed by the Guardian earlier this week, told BBC One’s Andrew Marr on Sunday: “As a scientist and extrapolating from what we’ve seen so far from other viruses, I would expect high efficacy in disease prevention. at least some effectiveness in preventing infections.
“I am convinced that transmission between people will be reduced by such an effective vaccine – maybe not 90% but maybe 50%. But we must not forget that even this would result in a dramatic reduction in the spread of the pandemic. ”
Şahin said scientists would have a better understanding of the impact of the vaccine candidate on slowing transmission “in a few months” after further analysis of the antibody response in trial participants.
BioNTech has previously stated that some critical questions regarding the effectiveness of the jab can only be resolved in the weeks and months to come. It could take up to a year to determine for sure whether it can also stop asymptomatic infections.
It is also not known how long the vaccination will last after the vaccine is taken, but Şahin said on Sunday that the vaccine might be needed “every year, every two years or every five years,” depending on the antibody response.
The companies hope to deliver more than 300 million doses of the vaccine worldwide by April next year, with the first injections taking place next month. It would be too late to have a dramatic impact on the second wave sweeping across large parts of Europe and the Americas, Ahin said, but it could help the West have a “normal winter” next year.
“This winter will be hard. We won’t have a big impact on the number of infections with our vaccine this winter. If everything continues to go well, we will start delivering the vaccine at the end of this year, early next year, ”he said.
“The greatest impact will be [not] arrive until summer. Summer will help us anyway because the infection rate will go down. What is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate until or before the fall, winter next year.
“This means that all of the vaccine vaccination… must be completed before next fall. We are confident this will happen because a number of vaccine manufacturers have been urged to increase the supply, so that we can have a normal winter next year.
Şahin, whose wife, Özlem Türeci, is BioNTech’s chief medical officer, said she received the “extremely relieving” news of the results of their provisional trial during an 8 am call from Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla. Asked how he and his wife celebrated the news, Şahin said: “We sat together and had tea… it’s not just British, it’s Turkish too.”