Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci said that at this stage there is not enough data to determine how long the protection offered by the Moderna or the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines will last.
CEO of BioNTech Uğur Şahin also said he is optimistic the immunization effect of the vaccine would last for a year, but they won’t know for sure until July 2021 because the data available at this time only dates back to July 2020, when they started their trial. Efficacy describes the performance of the vaccine under ideal circumstances, like in a clinical trial.
There isn’t enough data available yet to determine how long each vaccine will protect people. BioNTech’s CEO said trial patients need to be monitored for a full year to measure the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine. The efficacy rate of vaccines is a measurement of how effective they are under ideal circumstances. Although the vaccines protect people from COVID-19, experts don’t yet know if it will prevent someone spreading the virus, so other precautions, such as masks, will still be important.
“We don’t know the answer to that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “I would imagine it’s going to be at least one full cycle, like one full cycle of a year. But what we don’t know is it going to be a year or two or three of four, will we have to get a boost? I would imagine, knowing what we know about the durability of response to coronaviruses, that it’s not going to be like measles, which is essentially a lifetime of protection.”
Other physicians have also concluded that there isn’t enough data to determine the longevity of the vaccines yet.
“We don’t know the answer, but we’re going to find out, we will know because we’re going to be following these people for one to two years following the initial initiation of the study,” Dr. Fauci said.
Common COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing masks, will remain important after vaccines become more widely available.
In December BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said he was optimistic the immunization effect of the vaccine would last for a year.