Europe will reach herd immunity by August – BioNTech chief
Europe can achieve herd immunity against coronavirus within the next four months, according to the head of German pharmaceutical company BioNTech.
The company developed the first widely approved Covid-19 vaccine with US partner Pfizer.
While the exact threshold required to reach that critical level of immunisation remains a matter of debate, experts say a level above 70% would significantly disrupt transmission of coronavirus within a population.
“Europe will reach herd immunity in July, latest by August,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive.
His company’s Covid-19 vaccine makes up a large share of the doses administered in Europe and North America, where it is more commonly known as the Pfizer shot.
Mr Sahin said data from people who have received the vaccine show that the immune response gets weaker over time, and a third shot will probably be required.
Studies show the efficacy of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine declines from 95% to about 91% after six months, he said.
“Accordingly, we need a third shot to get the vaccine protection back up to almost 100% again” Mr Sahin said.
He suggested this should be administered nine to 12 months after the first shot.
“And then I expect it will probably be necessary to get another booster every year or perhaps every 18 months again,” he said.