Coronavirus vaccine: Founder details side effects of jab that can last for days

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Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, which has announced promising preliminary results of its coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, said the companies did not see any serious side effects of the jab. He said the “key side effects” seen so far were a mild to moderate pain in the injection site for a few days, while some of the participants had a mild to moderate fever for a similar period.

Speaking to BBC’s Andrew Marr, Professor Sahin said: “We did not see any other serious side effects which would result in pausing or halting of the study.

“We have now safety data for a proportion of the subjects for more than two months, and we are continuing to collect data for more than two years, to not only see the short and mid-term side effect profile but also the long-term side effect profile.

“But so far the safety profile appears to be absolutely benign.”

He added that more data needed to be generated to find out if immunisation against coronavirus was long lasting.

Asked if it was going to be annual Covid-19 jabs, such as with the flu jab, he said: “The flu is a little bit different, because with flu we are really dealing every year with a different strain, or different strains.

“The Covid-19 of course has some mutations, but so far the mutations are very distinct, and I don’t expect that the virus will have a dramatic shift, which is observed, for example, for influenza.

“So the only reason for booster immunisations will be if we realise that there is no protection after one year.

“It could be that it’s immunisation each year, every second year, or even every five years. So we really need to generate data to answer this question.”

His comments come as a Government scientific adviser said encouraging the public to visit bars and restaurants and then closing hospitality due to a spike in Covid-19 cases is not a “sensible way to run the epidemic”.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), urged a long-term strategy when it comes to balancing the economy and the pandemic.

It comes as Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the Oxford University and AstraZeneca trial, told The Sun his team were “optimistic” tens of millions of doses of UK-made coronavirus vaccines can start being produced by the end of the year.

Current national lockdown measures in England mean venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants have been forced to close, but are expected to be allowed to reopen when the restrictions lift.

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Professor Edmunds raised concerns about “flip-flopping” between incentives, such as Eat Out To Help Out, and closures.

“We need to take a long-term view and be sensible and realise that we’re going to have to have restrictions in place for some time,” he told the PA news agency.

“Yes, we can lift them when it’s safe to do so, which will be primarily when large numbers of people have been vaccinated.

“But flip-flopping between encouraging people to mix socially, which is what you’re doing by encouraging people to go to restaurants and bars, versus then immediately closing them again, isn’t a very sensible way to run the epidemic.”

Under current plans, a regional tiered system is set to replace the national lockdown when it ends on December 2.

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