ISTANBUL, May 20 (Reuters) – BioNTech SE said on
Thursday the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Pfizer
should be roughly as effective against the new coronavirus
variant first detected in India as it has been shown to be
against the South African variant.
The company said in a statement Chief Executive Ugur Sahin
felt encouraged by recent findings in a scientific paper https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.09.443299v1
based on blood analysis of vaccinated individuals, which showed
that the antibodies elicited by the vaccine were able to
neutralise the Indian variant.
Since the blood tests on the variant that was first detected
in South Africa had shown similar results, promising real-world
data on the vaccine’s effectiveness against the South African
variant of about 75% led him to believe that its actual
effectiveness against the Indian variant “might be in the same
“So far we’ve had the chance to test our vaccine against
more than 30 variants of the virus. It has proven effective
against mutations so far,” Sahin said earlier, speaking on
Sahin, a German scientist with Turkish parents, spoke in
Turkish after virtually attending the Turkish government’s
science council meeting.
“We expect (our vaccine) to protect against infections by
70% to 75%,” he said on TV, in what the company later said was
in reference to the South African variant and not directly to
the Indian variant.
Since the concerning COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.617.2,
was first identified in India, it has ravaged that country and
spread to at least 26 nations out of the 53 in the World Health
Organization’s (WHO) European Region, the organization said.
The WHO’s regional director said on Thursday COVID-19
vaccines being deployed in Europe, including the Pfizer/BioNTech
shot, appear able to protect against circulating virus variants
that have caused concern because they are more easily
Sahin was speaking with Turkish Health Minister Fehrettin
Koca, who separately said the country recorded less than 10,000
daily new coronavirus cases for the first time since March 1.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Jonathan Spicer; Additional
reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Jonathan
Oatis, Bill Berkrot and Marguerita Choy)