Life will be back to normal by next winter: Pfizer COVID vaccine developer

‘I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine - maybe not 90% but maybe 50%,’ Prof. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder, said

BioNTech is co-developing the COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer.

One of the developers of a coronavirus vaccine candidate has said that life should be back to normal by next winter and the vaccine could result in “a dramatic reduction of the pandemic’s spread”.

Prof Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder, told BBC, “I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine – maybe not 90% but maybe 50% – but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread.”

BioNTech is co-developing the vaccine with Pfizer. Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer said preliminary analysis showed the vaccine candidate could prevent more than 90% of people from getting COVID-19. About 43,000 people took part in the tests.

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If everything continued to go well, he told BBC, the vaccine would begin to be delivered at the “end of this year, beginning of next year”. He said 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”.

Meanwhile, the phase-3 trials of Covaxin, the vaccine candidate being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has started, Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of the company, said on Monday (November 16).

Speaking virtually at a programme organised by the Indian School of Business, Ella said the company is also working on another vaccine for COVID-19 which would be in the form of nasal drops and can be ready by next year.

“We partnered with ICMR for COVID-19 vaccine as we speak it entered the phase 3 trials,” he said.

Bharat Biotech is the only vaccine company in the world which has BSL3 production facility (Biosafety level 3), he said.

Last month, the vaccine maker said it had successfully completed interim analysis of Phase I and II trials of the vaccine and is initiating Phase-III trials in 26,000 participants.

Covaxin is being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV).

The vaccine maker had on October 2 sought the Drug Controller General of India’s (DCGI) permission to conduct phase 3 randomised double-blind placebo-controlled multicentre trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, sources said.

“We are working on another vaccine through nasal drops my feeling is by next year it will reach the population,” Ella said.

Bharat Biotech had in September said it has entered into a licensing agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for a novel “chimp-adenovirus” (Chimpanzee adenovirus), single dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19.

Recently, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced the completion of enrollment of phase 3 clinical trials for Covishield in India.

ICMR and SII have further collaborated for clinical development Covovax (Novavax) developed by Novavax, USA, and upscaled by SII.

“The partnership is a stellar example of private-public institutes collaborating to mitigate the dire consequences of the pandemic outbreak,” SII said in a statement on Wednesday (November 11).

(With inputs from PTI)

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