Covid vaccine scientist predicts normality to return to UK by next winter

One of the scientists behind the first Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials has said the impact of the jab will kick in next summer and normality should return by next winter.

A lab technician sorts blood samples for a Covid-19 vaccine study at the Research Centres of America in Hollywood, Florida. Picture: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
A lab technician sorts blood samples for a Covid-19 vaccine study at the Research Centres of America in Hollywood, Florida. Picture: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Professor Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, said it was "absolutely essential" to have a high vaccination rate before autumn next year to ensure a return to normal life next winter.

He acknowledged the next few months will be "hard" and the promising preliminary results on the vaccine, created in partnership with Pfizer, will not have an impact on infection numbers in the current wave.

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Interim results from the jab were found to be more than 90 per cent effective, the two firms announced last week, but safety and additional efficacy data continue to be collected.

"If everything continues to go well, we will start to deliver the vaccine end of this year, beginning next year," Prof Sahin told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"Our goal is to deliver more than 300 million of vaccine doses until April next year, which could allow us to already start to make an impact.

"The bigger impact will happen until summer, the summer will help us anyway because the infection rate will go down in 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."

Prof Sahin said on Sunday 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.

It comes amid calls from Labour for emergency legislation to "stamp out" conspiracy theories about coronavirus vaccines ahead of any potential rollout.

Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday show, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said there should be penalties for social media platforms which allow misinformation to spread.

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