COVID-19 will be with us for the next 10 years; BioNTech CEO

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Ugur Sahin
Dr. Ugur Sahin is co-founder and CEO of German biotech firm BioNTech which co-developed one of the earliest COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use.

With several new and potentially lethal strains of novel coronavirus creating difficulties among governments and global organizations on how to control and eradicate the pandemic, Mr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech has observed that the deadly virus is going to stay with us for at least the next 10 years.

When asked about a plausible deadline on when life will return to normal, the BioNTech official stated that “We need a new definition of normal. The virus will stay with us for the next 10 years.”

One of the early movers in the COVID-19 race, BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed with US pharma giant Pfizer was one of the earliest vaccine candidates to receive authorization for emergency use from more than 45 countries across the globe.

Commenting on the newer, apparently deadlier UK variant of novel coronavirus and the effectiveness of the existing vaccine, Mr. Sahin responded that the vaccine can be adjusted for the new UK variant in about six weeks.

“In principle, the beauty of the messenger technology is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation – we could be able to provide a new vaccine technically within six weeks,” the BioNTech official added while remaining extremely confident that the new variant in the UK would not impact the efficacy of the vaccine.

A newer, deadlier variant 

The discovery of the new mutated variant of novel coronavirus which is considered to be about 70% more transmissible was initially revealed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in mid-December.

The UK also witnessed the emergence of a new second variant of the novel coronavirus in the region which is now linked to travelers from South Africa.

“This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the country,” UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock commented.