BERLIN 

A new vaccine against the mutated version of the novel coronavirus can be developed within six seeks, BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said on Tuesday.

The Turkish-German scientist, who developed the world’s first effective COVID-19 vaccine, made the remarks during a virtual news conference of his pharma company.

Sahin said the BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was effective against the recently discovered variants of the novel coronavirus, but added that if it becomes necessary to develop a new one, this could be possible in less than two months.

“In principle, the beauty of the messenger RNA technology is that we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation. And we could be able to provide a new vaccine, technically within six weeks,” he said.

But he also underlined that due to the other aspects of vaccine production, such as necessary authorizations by the health authorities, the process may also take longer.

“Of course this is not only a technical question, we have to deal with the question, how regulators, how EMA [European Medicine Agency], FDA [Food and Drug Administration], and other authorities would see that,” he said.

The BioNTech and its partner Pfizer has developed the world’s first effective COVID-19 vaccine by using the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

They concluded Phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in November, and observed more than 94% efficacy in adults aged 65 and over.

The US and UK have already started using the BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine, after health regulators approved its emergency use in these countries.

The EMA announced on Monday that it gave conditional market authorization for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to be used in the European Union.

The EU member states are planning to begin vaccinations between Dec. 27-29.

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