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COVID-19 will be around for next 10 years, says BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin

Coronavirus pandemic: 'We need a new definition of normal. We need to get used to the fact that there will be more outbreaks,' says Ugur Sahin

BusinessToday.In | Thursday, December 24, 2020 | 10:17 IST

Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech that is collaborating with Pfizer for a coronavirus vaccine candidate, has said that he expects the virus to be around for the next 10 years. He, talking at a press conference, however, sounded hopeful that a 'new normal' would set in by the end of summer.

When asked about when he believes the world will return to normal, Sahin said, "We need a new definition of 'normal'. The virus will stay with us for the next 10 years. We need to get used to the fact there'll be more outbreaks."

The 'new normal', Sahin explained, would mean that countries do not have to go under lockdown. "This winter, we will not have an impact on the infection numbers. But we must have an impact so that next winter can be the new normal," he said.

Talking about whether vaccinating 60-70 per cent of the world's population would prevent future outbreaks, Sahin said that if the virus mutates, a higher uptake of the vaccine would be required to return to normal.

BioNTech is aiming to find if the vaccine is effective against the new strain of coronavirus discovered in the UK. Sahin said that the company would need another two weeks to see if the vaccine can stop the mutant coronavirus strain. He said that scientifically it is likely that the immune response generated by the vaccine can deal with the virus. Sahin said that the BioNTech vaccine contains over 1,270 amino acids and only nine of them are changed in the mutant virus. He said that 99 per cent of the protein is still the same.

The new coronavirus strain has caused panic around the globe. More than 40 countries have suspended their flights to and from the UK. In India, separate SOPs have been issued for passengers who have arrived from the country. UK passengers are also rigorously tracked and tested to ensure there is no coronavirus symptom. Meanwhile, as per reports a separate mutant strain has emerged in South Africa.

Also read: Confident vaccine effective against new coronavirus variant, says BioNTech CEO

Also read: Pfizer-BioNtech COVID vaccine to employ differential pricing for different countries

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