Delivery of Pfizer and BioNTech SE's vaccine to combat the Omicron COVID-19 variant was delayed by several weeks due to a slower-than expected data gathering process, BionTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Germany's Bild on Thursday.
Once the vaccine is ready, the company would assess whether it was still needed, Sahin said.
"If the wave ends, that does not mean it can't begin again," he told Bild in a video interview, adding that BioNTech was in a position to continue creating new vaccines as variants emerged if needed.
"I really don't see the situation as dramatic anymore," he said, referring to how the coronavirus would develop in future.
BioNTech had previously expected to launch the vaccine by end of March, but said in late January that this depended on how much clinical data regulators would require.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.