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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C

Pfizer CEO says there is 'encouraging' data on whether its vaccine stops Covid transmission

“We know that in animals, [there is] significant protection from transferring the virus,” Dr Albert Bourla told an the EPP Group health event.

THE CEO OF Pfizer has said that there is “encouraging” data on whether the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine stops transmission.

Dr Albert Bourla said at the EPP Group health event that “more concrete data” would be available by February.

Studies to date have shown that its vaccine is highly effective at preventing a person who gets SARS-CoV-2 from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, but separate research needs to be carried out as to its effectiveness at preventing transmission itself.

“Right now we want to see to the vaccine, in addition to protecting people, is also preventing transferring the virus,” Dr Bourla said.

“This is not conclusive yet. We know that in animals, [there is] significant protection from transferring the virus…. We haven’t [proven that in] humans yet.”

When asked how long the vaccine would give immunity to Covid-19 for, Bourla said that  people who have been vaccinated for 6-7 months “are maintaining a very high level of protection”.

Dr Bourla also told the EPP Group event that it looks like there is a “very, very high efficacy” of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the two variants that appear to be able to transmit easier than other variants.

Studies have suggested that two variants – one found in the UK and another in South Africa – could be between 50-75% more transmissible.

Dr Bourla said that after a number of in vitro experiments, it appears that it will have a very high efficacy against these variants.

On the safety of the vaccine for children, he said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been licenced for people aged 16 years old and above.

Pfizer are running clinical trials to examine the safety of the vaccine among children aged from 12-16, and Dr Bourla expects them to conclude in a few months, “maybe the first quarter”.

He said that any bottlenecks that there are currently in the production of the vaccine are a result of the vaccine not having been made before, coupled with the vaccines being needed in “extraordinary quantities”.

“We feel confident that we will dramatically increase the production of our vaccines.”

Right now, we expect this year to deliver 2 billion doses against the 1.3 billion [previously planned for this year]. And the efforts [to increase production] are not stopping.

When asked if the contract for vaccines with the European Union would be published, Dr Bourla said that they would look at publishing a version of the deal that keeps some information confidential “because I think it’s become quite sensitive” to make some of the information public.

Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac which is also developing a Covid-19 vaccine, said that the importance of a Europe-wide and global approach to battling the Covid-19 pandemic is that the virus doesn’t recognise borders, nationality, or the colour of skin.

The CureVac vaccine is in the third testing phase; if it cannot apply for authorisation by this Spring, it aims to produce the BioNTech vaccine.

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