The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not “yet” need to be adapted to deal with the new variants of the coronavirus in circulation, the head of BioNTech assured a press conference on Monday, advocating instead a third “booster” dose.
“It is quite possible that in the next six to 12 months, further variants will emerge and that would require adaptation of the vaccine but it is at the moment not yet the case,” said Ugur Sahin.
“Making a decision at the moment might turn out to be wrong in three or six months if another variant is dominating. Therefore the timing of the decision must be appropriate,” he said.
“At the moment we have a good understanding that the booster vaccine with the parental strain is completely sufficient,” he added.
The headquarters of Pfizer in the US did not reply to a request last week from The Brussels Times to comment on the need and timing of booster campaigns. Besides Israel, other countries, including EU member states, have started or are planning such campaigns for a third vaccine shot starting in September.
More than 100 million doses of the vaccine leave the production site in Antwerp, Puurs-Sint-Amands, every month, to be shipped to other countries in the EU and further abroad.
Especially in the first four months of this year, Pfizer played a big role in the export of vaccines from Belgium, which exported coronavirus vaccines worth €3.8 billion, of which Pfizer reported sales of its vaccines equivalent to €2.9 billion.
The EU’s joint vaccine procurement programme provided 330 million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, 100 million of AstraZeneca, 50 million of Moderna and 20 million of Johnson & Johnson, whilst in May, the EU signed a new contract to buy up to 1.8 billion doses of vaccine from BioNTech-Pfizer for delivery until 2023.
Pfizer forecast it would sell around €21.91 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines by the end of July, however, this has increased to €28.23 billion worth of vaccines. In May, Moderna was expecting annual sales of around €16.43 billion.