Pfizer chairman 'unsure' if COVID vaccine prevents transmission to others

“I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now with what we know."

Syringes are seen in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos in this illustration (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syringes are seen in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos in this illustration
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla said on Thursday that the pharmaceutical company is unsure whether the coronavirus vaccine could prevent a person from transmitting the virus, The Hill reported
The comment was made to Dateline host Lester Holt during a prime-time special titled "Race for a Vaccine" wherein Holt questioned individuals involved in development and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. 
Holt asked Bourla if being vaccinated for the virus meant he could still transmit it to others.
“I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now with what we know,” Bourla responded.
Just this Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve Pfizer's vaccine, yet US and EU regulators have yet to give their approval and are still sifting through trial data.
The US Food and Drug Administration will make a decision on emergency use authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in days or weeks after a panel of outside advisers meets on Dec. 10 to review the data and make its recommendation to the agency.
Similarly, data from late-stage trials of Moderna's vaccine, which uses the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, is due to be reviewed on December 17.
Both companies have applied for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration for their vaccines.
Data published by Moderna and Pfizer about their coronavirus vaccine candidates is limited, warned Prof. Yossi Karko, director of the clinical research unit at Hadassah-University Medical Center in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Karko noted that the safety data is “very short” – only spanning the period of about two months from inoculation.
“The FDA has a mechanism of approving drugs and vaccines for emergency cases. What this means, is that the FDA has initial safety data. But if this was a usual situation, the researchers would have followed the volunteers for at least two years before the vaccine was approved,” he said.
On Thursday Israel's Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy said that Israel could begin receiving doses of the Pfizer vaccine within the next few weeks.
Some four million doses are expected to arrive, he said – enough to vaccinate two million people. However, even though the vaccines could enter Israel even before they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, no one will be inoculated before approval.
In addition, Israel and Moderna signed a new contract on Friday to triple the amount of the company's coronavirus vaccine that the Jewish state will receive from 2 million doses to 6 million doses in 2021.

Reuters and Maayan Jaffe Hoffman contributed to this report.