Covid jab company boss says race is on to get high vaccination rate before next autumn

Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, which has announced promising preliminary results of its coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, says it is “absolutely essential” to have a high vaccination rate before autumn next year.

“This winter will be hard. So we will not have a big impact on the infection numbers with our vaccine this winter,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“If everything continues to go well, we will start to deliver the vaccine end of this year, beginning next year.”

Mr Sahin said the goal was to deliver more than 300 million doses before April next year, which could “already start to make an impact”, with a bigger impact expected during the summer.

He added: “What is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate before autumn/winter next year, so that means all the immunisation, vaccination approaches must be accomplished before next autumn.

“I’m confident that this will happen, because a number of vaccine companies have been asked to increase the supply, and so that we could have a normal winter next year.”

Recalling the moment he was told of their vaccine’s effectiveness, Mr Sahin said it was “extremely relieving”.

“As a scientist, you of course expect certain likelihood that the card could be positive based on the data that we had so far, but there is always unknown factors.

“And it could be that there is a scientific, biological or medical reason why the vaccine does not work.

“We now know that our vaccine works, and most likely other vaccines will also work.

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“So this is really a message which not only changes how we develop vaccines, but also increases the likelihood that we will be able to get this pandemic under control.”