BioNTech CEO Says Vaccine May Protect Against Severe Omicron Covid-19
BioNTech and Pfizer’s established Covid-19 vaccine will likely deliver strong protection against any serious illness thanks to the new Omicron variantBioNTech’s chief executive told Reuters.
Laboratory tests are underway over the next two weeks to analyze the blood of people who have received two or three doses of BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine to see if the antibodies found in this blood inactivate Omicron, potentially shedding light on whether new vaccines are needed.
âWe believe it is likely that people will benefit from substantial protection against serious illnesses caused by Omicron,â said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. He said the serious illness required hospital or intensive care. Sahin told Reuters he expects lab tests to show some loss of vaccine protection against mild and moderate illnesses due to Omicron, but the extent of that loss was difficult to predict.
The biotech company is quickly working on an improved version of its vaccine, although it is not clear whether this is necessary, he added. Sahin said that getting a third vaccine known as a booster will likely provide a layer of protection against Omicron infection of any severity compared to those who only received the initial two-shot treatment. “For me, there is no reason to be particularly worried. The only thing that worries me right now is the fact that there are people who have not been vaccinated at all.” Sahin added.
The cautious confidence of BioNTech contrasts with the feeling of alarm conveyed by the managing director of rival vaccine manufacturer Moderna, StÃ©phane Bancel. In a Financial Time interview, he spoke of the prospect of a significant drop in protection against the novel coronavirus lineage of current vaccines, raising further concerns in financial markets about the trajectory of the pandemic.