Scientist Behind Pfizer Vaccine: Will Bash COVID 'Over the Head'

Uğur Şahin

Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, said: "Of all the current vaccines now in development, the BioNtech product always looked like the most bang-per-buck as it is entirely focused on the part of the virus that binds to the human cell, the receptor-binding domain".

President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump has bristled at Pfizer's announcement, claiming the news had been suppressed until after Election Day to purposely harm him. BioNTech and Penn signed a licensing agreement in November 2018 in an effort to develop new vaccines for infectious diseases using Weissman's mRNA technology.

Despite the good news, the World Health Organisation is reminding people not to stop using current spread prevention methods such as social distancing, face masks, and the regular washing of hands while we wait for the vaccine to be released.

However a few volunteers have said that they suffered side effects comparable to a flu jab, with one comparing them to "a severe hangover".

A billionaire scientist behind Pfizer and BioNTech's breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine says he expects it to "bash the virus over the head" and ultimately end the pandemic, according to a report. "That's likely to happen for Covid-19".

"We only have indirect clues so far [immunity duration]". However, Valneva's vaccine is not likely to be ready for approval until at least mid-2021.

In 2005, Weissman and his Penn research partner at the timeKatalin Karikó discovered that by modifying RNA using a naturally occurring modified nucleoside, they could reduce the inflammatory potential of the RNA and induce a much higher production of antigenic protein, a key feature of a successful vaccine. Finally, longer follow-up is needed to determine how long vaccine-induced immunity will last. We know that antibodies produced after a natural COVID-19 infection can be lost within months.

That said, antibodies are probably not the whole answer to the body's response to this (and indeed other) coronaviruses. Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have shown that they produce a T cell response.

These first COVID-19 vaccines might not be ideal, but let's say half of the people receiving them make a protective response strong enough to stop them from transmitting the virus. While Beijing quickly got the virus under control and sought to distribute aid to other countries, complaints followed about faulty materials and strings attached. Some people will refuse to be vaccinated. "One of the primary principles will be equitable distribution, even when that means you need to take extraordinary measures for logistics, transportation, and handling".

"I think people's first concern is, is it going to be safe?" she said. Pfizer could have 1.3 billion doses by then - though recipients will need two doses.

For this reason, Pfizer has devised "thermal shippers" that, unopened, can keep the vaccines frozen for up to 10 days.