COVID-19: BioNTech boss confident coronavirus vaccine will work against new variant

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Watch: COVID-19 - BioNTech boss confident coronavirus vaccine will work against new variant

BioNTech's boss has said he is confident the company's vaccine will be effective against the new coronavirus variant.

Ugur Sahin said more tests were needed before he could be completely sure of the efficacy of the drug.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is the only vaccine approved for use in the UK so far. It is also being rolled out in the US.

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Mr Sahin said that the company has "scientific confidence" that the vaccine will be effective, as the new form of COVID-19 shares 99% of the proteins with the previous iterations.

He added: "The likelihood that our vaccine works ... is relatively high."

But he caveated his statement by acknowledging more research is needed into the mutation, which is prevalent in London and the southeast of England.

He said: "But we will know it [is effective] only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data."

Mr Sahin said that if adjustments were necessary, it would take BioNTech around six weeks to make them - although regulatory approval may be needed.

BioNTech was founded by Mr Sahin and his wife Ozlem Tureci in 2008.

He first became aware of the coronavirus in January, and realised that the work he had done on cancer treatments may be applicable to the research into a vaccine.

BioNTech assigned 500 staff to the project, and subsequently gained the backing of US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Chinese drug makers Fosun.

Mr Sahin has not yet received the vaccine, and says it is more important that his employees are inoculated to make sure they can carry on their work.