The new variant of coronavirus may require countries to vaccinate a higher proportion of their populations, raising the bar for achieving herd immunity, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a news conference Tuesday.
"(On) the topic of herd immunity there is always the discussion about 60 to 70%," Sahin said. "But if the virus becomes more efficient at infecting people, we might need even a high vaccination rate to ensure that normal life can continue without interruption."
"But 60 to 70% of vaccination rate will really dramatically change the situation," Sahin added. "It is not that we have to deal with outbreaks if the virus becomes more effective but it still would provide a more or less normal life."
But he also added that he has "scientific confidence" that the current Pfizer/BioNTech could work against the new variant of coronavirus spreading across the UK. The full data will be available in two weeks.
According to Sahin, the new variant has nine mutations but as the vaccine contains more than 1,270 amino acids and only nine have changed it means the "99 percent of the protein is still the same."