The boss of Pfizer in the UK is so certain of the safety of its Covid vaccine that he would allow his six-year-old daughter to have it now.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Ben Osborn, who runs the British arm of the US drug giant and is head of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said he has had ‘blunt’ conversations with those opposed to vaccines.
Asked if Pfizer’s jab, developed rapidly with German partner BioNTech was safe, he said: ‘I think the biggest reassurance I would give is that I would give the vaccine to my six-year-old daughter tomorrow if that were authorised.’
Experts and regulators in the UK are considering whether to approve the vaccine’s use in five to 11-year-olds. Pfizer’s jab was last week approved for use on children as young as five by the European Medicines Agency and is also authorised for use in American children.
Mr Osborn said he has frequently been asked about the safety of the vaccine by sceptics concerned at the speed of its development – in just 259 days.
‘It’s frustrating but it’s part of the job,’ he said. ‘The most important message is, yes, it’s been done at speed but no corners have been cut.’
Pfizer has also moved to address concerns that existing vaccines may not offer protection against the new Omicron variant of the virus.
The firm said yesterday it had begun running ‘neutralisation tests on the new Omicron variant of concern and expect to have initial data in the coming weeks’.
It added that if the variant escapes the protection of the vaccine, it expects ‘to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days’.