With the distribution of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and others, COVID-19 could be under control “by the end of next summer," the vaccine's creator told Fox News.
In an interview conducted on the day of the Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine, BioNTech co-founder Prof. Ugur Sahin laid out a detailed timeline of what the next year could hold for global efforts to stop the pandemic.
“Hopefully we can roll out the vaccine very fast,” he told Fox News, “significantly reducing the hospitalizations.”
He noted lives could quickly be saved as the vulnerable will be a priority.
He said it will take the immunization of 30% of Americans with vaccines to start to see a difference. Sahin told Fox that could happen by next April. But he noted that people must have the injections. Acknowledging anti-vaccine sentiment, he reassured Fox News that "the vaccine has an excellent safety profile.”
Widespread global distribution is also critical.
Pfizer/BioNTech had promised to deliver 1.3 billion vaccine doses to countries around the world by the end of the next year. Sahin revealed to Fox News that the companies “could deliver even more doses in 2021.” Despite some early material shortages, he said that was being planned and evaluated.
Sahin said he is encouraged by the introduction of the vaccine in the U.K. this week, calling it a “smooth process.”
He did acknowledge allergic reactions in two health workers who took the vaccine in Britain and said “precautions” needed to be taken. He claimed the drug’s necessary super-cold transport is “not too challenging.”
The BioNTech founder said collaboration between companies and countries was critical in gaining control of the pandemic. He called on all parties to “work together in a concentrated fashion in the next nine months.”
He did caution it might take until the fall to fully rein in the coronavirus.
Sahin is the son of Turkish immigrants in Germany. His father worked in a Ford factory in Cologne.
How does he feel about being a part of something that might help save countless lives around the world, including in the U.S.?
“Of course, you can’t imagine it,” he said, adding: “This is something you love to do, to provide benefit to people… This is an extraordinary situation."