Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccineOlivier Fitoussi/Flash 90

The world is becoming "better prepared" to deal with future variants of the coronavirus, the CEO and co-founder of German vaccine-maker BioNTech told AFP on Thursday.

"We will have to get used to the fact that we will have to live with the virus for the next 10 years," said Ugur Sahin, whose company developed the first mRNA vaccine against the virus with Pfizer.

As the surge of cases due to the spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus seemed to be receding in Europe, Sahin said it would not be the last virus wave.

New virus variants were inevitable "because the virus will mutate further", he explained, potentially leading to new flare-ups in cases.

At the same time, Sahin noted that the world was "entering a phase where society is getting a better understanding on how to deal with the virus."

"We are always learning more and are becoming better prepared," he told AFP.

Pfizer and BioNTech recently began enrollment for a clinical trial to test the safety and immune response of their Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged up to 55.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last month that the vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of COVID-19 will be ready in March, and the company has already begun manufacturing the doses.

“This vaccine will be ready in March. We [are] already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk,” he told CNBC.

Bourla said the vaccine will also target the other variants that are circulating. He said it is still not clear whether or not an Omicron vaccine is needed or how it would be used, but Pfizer will have some doses ready since some countries want it ready as soon as possible.

Bourla said in November that three doses of the Pfizer vaccine would remain effective even against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but added that a new vaccine specifically made to combat the new strain could be ready in 100 days.