In Brief

Scientist behind breakthrough Covid vaccine predicts return to normal life ‘by next winter’

BioNTech co-founder says company aiming to deliver more than 300 million jabs before April

One of the creators of a coronavirus vaccine that has been found to be 90% effective is further raising hopes of a return to everyday life by predicting that “we could have a normal winter next year”.

BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that “if everything continues to go well”, the aim is to deliver more than 300 million doses worldwide before April, “which could allow us to already start to make an impact”.

However, Sahin cautioned that “this winter will be hard” and that the vaccine “will not have a big impact on the infection numbers” in the immediate future.

The German biotechnology company, which developed the vaccine alongside US firm Pfizer, has confirmed that the EU has agreed a deal to buy 300 million doses of the vaccine for the bloc. “As a company founded in the heart of Europe, we are looking forward to supplying millions of people upon regulatory approval,” Sahin said.

BioNTech has also confirmed that it did not receive any assistance or funding from the US government in developing the jab - despite claims to the contrary by Donald Trump’s officials - but has signed a deal to provide $1.95bn (£1.4bn) worth of the vaccine through the president’s Warp Speed programme

Asked whether the vaccine would require regular booster shots, Sahin told Marr: “The only reason for booster immunisations will be if we realise that there is no protection after one year... it could be that it’s immunisation each year, every second year or even every five years.”

Sahin is married to BioNTech’s chief medical officer, Ozlem Tureci, and revealed that they toasted the news of the vaccine’s interim trials success with tea. “This is not only British, this is also Turkish,” he added.

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