The Pfizer vaccine is likely to offer strong protection against any severe disease from the new Omicron COVID variant, according to the head of BioNTech who urged people not to ‘freak out’.
BioNTech developed one of the world’s most widely-used jabs with Pfizer, and the company’s chief executive and founder Ugur Sahin said: “To my mind there’s no reason to be particularly worried.
“The only thing that worries me at the moment is the fact that there are people that have not been vaccinated at all.”
The BioNTech boss’s guarded confidence contrasts with more pessimistic comments by the chief executive of rival vaccine maker Moderna, Stephane Bancel, who raised the prospect of a material drop in protection against the new coronavirus strain from current vaccines.
Mr Bancel said he believes Omicron, first identified by researchers in southern Africa, is “highly infectious” and it is “highly possible” the effectiveness of vaccines is decreasing – adding that boosters may need a “double” dose to provide the best protection.
But Mr Sahin said: “We think it’s likely that people will have substantial protection against severe disease caused by Omicron.”
He specified severe disease as requiring hospital treatment or intensive care.