Scientist Behind Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Says It Can End The Coronavirus Pandemic
The scientist leading the first coronavirus vaccine to get past interim clinical trials says he believes the vaccine will ‘bash the virus over the head,’ and finally put an end to the pandemic.
On Monday, November 9, it was announced that phase three trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate had proven to be 90% effective in stopping people from becoming unwell.
However, it remains to be seen whether the vaccine will work among those who carry the virus asymptomatically.
Speaking for the first time since the news earlier this week, BioNTech’s chief executive Uğur Şahin said he believes the vaccine will play a significant role in overcoming the pandemic.
‘If the question is whether we can stop this pandemic with this vaccine, then my answer is: yes, because I believe that even protection only from symptomatic infections will have a dramatic effect,’ he told The Guardian.
However, it wasn’t until the final results of the phase three trials were revealed that they knew the vaccine would even be strong enough to target the virus.
‘It was possible that the virus isn’t really targeted by the vaccine, finds its way into the cells and continues to make people ill,’ Şahin explained.
‘We now know that vaccines can beat this virus.’
So far, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has emerged as the most successful candidate, as it attacks the virus ‘in more ways than one,’ according to Şahin.
‘The vaccine hinders COVID-19 from gaining access to our cells. But even if the virus manages to find a way in, then the T-cells bash it over the head and eliminate it,’ he explained.
‘We have trained the immune system very well to perfect these two defensive moves. We now know that the virus can’t defend itself against these mechanisms.’
While Pfizer is well versed in creating and mass marketing vaccines, the US-based company would never have been able to get the vaccine through so quickly if it wasn’t for the regulatory authorities speeding up the development process.
As it stands, the scientists don’t yet know how long the immunity from the vaccine will last, and it could take up to a year before we have a clearer picture on whether it works with asymptomatic cases.
‘We only have indirect clues so far [regarding the duration of immunity]. Studies of COVID-19 patients have shown that those with a strong immune response still have that response after six months,’ Şahin said.
‘I could imagine we could be safe for at least a year.’
Pfizer confirmed it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of the year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.
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