Coronavirus vaccine boss confident life will be back to ‘normal’ by this time next year
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The boss of a drug company creating a highly-anticipated coronavirus vaccine expects the UK will return to a "normal" by winter next year.
Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, also explained how he was confident the new jab will work when it is rolled out in the coming weeks.
The drugmaker is creating a vaccine in conjunction with pharma giant Pfizer, which has already said is 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 in patients.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the jab and could get 10 million to distribute before the end of this year.
But he said it was "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.
Ugur Sahin made the claims on BBC's Andrew Marr show
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"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."
He said the "key side effects" seen so far were a mild to moderate pain in the injection site for a few days, while some of the participants had a mild to moderate fever for a similar period.
Prof Ugur Sahin is one of the founders of BioNTech
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Asked if the coronavirus jab could be used in combination with other vaccines, such as the one being developed by AstraZeneca, he said: "At the beginning, it does not make sense to combine vaccines, as every vaccine has been clinically evaluated as a prime boost.
"So that means most vaccines are based on a first injection, and after three weeks, or after four weeks, a second injection. And I wouldn't mix that, because this has not been evaluated for safety."
He added: "But if after one year, for example, if someone who has received an AstraZeneca vaccine, who does not any more have an immune response, then it could be combined with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, or vice versa."
The new Pfizer jab will rolled out early next year, it has been announced
Mr Sahin said it was not known how long immunity lasts after a second dose of the vaccine, adding: "The antibody response might decline over time, and we expect it will decline over time, but what is not known, how fast it will decline?
"We are collecting this information and we will see it and if the antibody response, for example, after one year appeared to be too low, we can do a booster immunisation, which should not be too complicated."
A second vaccine being developed by British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline could also be coming soon as its boss revealed millions of doses have already been made.