Experts around the world have welcomed the “promising news” of the Pfizer vaccine which has been found to be more than 90 per cent effective at preventing the disease.
While the Covid-19 vaccine was funded by the American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, the science was primarily developed by BioNTech.
Chief executive officer Ugur Sahin founded BioNTech with his wife Özlem TuÌreci in 2018.
He told the Guardian that BioNTech’s results confirmed that “vaccines can beat this virus”.
“If the question is whether we can stop this pandemic with this vaccine, then my answer is: yes, because I believe that even protection only from symptomatic infections will have a dramatic effect," Mr Sahin told the newspaper.
He said the vaccine, most effective candidate to emerge from the company’s trials, attacked Covid-19 “in more way than one”.
The scientist explained how the vaccine prevents the virus from gaining access to our cells, and even if it does manage to find a way in, then the T-cells “bash it over the head and eliminate it”.
“We have trained the immune system very well to perfect these two defensive moves. We now know that the virus can’t defend itself against these mechanisms," said Mr Sahin.
He added that he hopes those who receive the Covid-19 treatement will be immune from the virus for at least a year.
The news of a possible vaccine from Pfizer came as England headed towards the end of its first week in a second national lockdown, and the medical director of NHS England Professor Stephen Powis suggested the previous tier system had pushed infection rates down.
“I am confident that the tiered system had an effect on the transmission of the virus and the number of infections in the community. I am sure that Tier 3 had a greater effect than Tier 1,” he said.
Prof Powis told a Downing Street conference that he believes the NHS will be up to the “challenge” of distributing a coronavirus vaccine, but declined to say whether the jab will be compulsory.