As US-based pharma major Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE get two back-to-back emergency approvals from the UK and Bahrain health regulatory bodies, the vaccine frontrunner seems to be clueless about one major question -- can their coronavirus vaccine prevent the virus' transmission after vaccination?
During a recent interview with NBC's Lestor Holt, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he expects the vaccine rollout to be rapid once the countries give the go-ahead.
When asked whether someone can still transmit the virus after vaccination, the Pfizer Chairman & CEO said the company was not certain about this.
"I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now with what we know," he told NBC News PR's Lester Holt in an interview on Thursday night.
On December 2, the UK became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus candidate BNT162b2 after the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found the jab safe for widespread rollout. The country has already ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate its 20 million population. After the UK, Bahrain has also approved the vaccine for 'emergency use'.
The approval for Pfizer's vaccine candidate comes in only 10 months since the company started developing it, which in itself is the fastest in the history of vaccines. Other countries like the US and the European Union are vetting the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate and the one developed by Moderna Inc.
Moderna's vaccine -- called mRNA-1273 -- is based on the latest and cutting-edge mRNA technique and is administered in two doses with a gap of 28 days between them. While Pfizer claims its vaccine was found to be 95 per cent effective during an efficacy analysis of 170 patients, its experimental coronavirus inoculation showed 94.1 per cent effectiveness, slightly lower than 94.5 per cent the company had claimed at the end of the first interim analysis for the same jab.
Nonetheless, as Pfizer and BioNTech stand by their "efficacy" claims, its inability to stop transmission could pose hurdles in its global production plans.