Posted November 20, 2020 9:28 am by

December vaccine rollout possible, BioNTech CEO says

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Nov 19 – BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin said on Thursday the frontrunner Covid-19 vaccine his German firm is developing with Pfizer could be rolled out before the year is over in the United States or Europe.

“We are working at full speed,” he told AFP in a Zoom interview, confirming that the companies planned to apply for emergency use authorisation of their jab in the US on Friday, while European regulators will receive another batch of data “next week”.

“There is a chance that we can receive approval from the US or Europe or both regions this year still,” said Sahin, 55, who is also BioNTech’s chief executive.

“We may even start delivering the vaccine in December,” he added, “if everyone works together very closely”.

The BioNTech/Pfizer shot and another one being developed by US firm Moderna have taken the lead in the global chase for a vaccine, after large-scale trial data this month showed that their jabs were around 95 percent effective against Covid-19.

Ugur Sahin, scientist CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said there is a chance of US and European approval for the vaccine this year © AFP / Handout

The twin breakthroughs have lifted hopes for an end to a pandemic that has infected more than 56 million people and caused more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide since the virus first emerged in China late last year.

The US, the European Union and a slew of other nations have already placed orders for hundreds of millions of doses of the top vaccine candidates in development.

Health workers, carers and people considered at high risk for severe Covid-19 are set to be first in line for the jabs.

– ‘A normal winter’ –

Speaking from the western German city of Mainz, Sahin said if all the players involved — governments, pharma companies and vaccine logistics firms — “do a really good job”, then “we can succeed in vaccinating 60 to 70 percent of the population by the autumn of 2021.”

“And when we’ve accomplished that then we could have a normal winter. Without another shutdown.”

December vaccine rollout possible, BioNTech CEO says

Comparison of the effectiveness of conventional vaccines and three vaccines in clinical trials against Covid-19 © AFP / Alain BOMMENEL

Beyond the US and EU, more than 30 countries are at different stages of negotiations to secure the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, Sahin said.

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