Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective: Early Data

Pfizer revealed that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the infection.

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate will not be ready by end of the month.

In a promising development, drugmaker Pfizer and its partner BioNTech revealed that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the infection.

The companies have shared partial information from the clinical trial based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts. While the phase 3 trials are still ongoing in the US, no adverse safety concerns have been observed so far, the company said, according to a report by The New York Times.

Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is one of the frontrunners in the race to produce a coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is being jointly developed with the German company BioNTech.

Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said in an interview,

“This is a historical moment. This was a devastating situation, a pandemic, and we have embarked on a path and a goal that nobody ever has achieved — to come up with a vaccine within a year.”
Kathrin Jansen

This update makes Pfizer the first company to share findings from a late-stage clinical study of the vaccine.

The firm would be seeking emergency authorisation of the vaccine later in November after collecting two-month safety data, as per the recommendation. Pfizer would be looking at manufacturing doses for 15-20 million people, according to company executives.

Speaking to STAT, William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said, “I’ve been in vaccine development for 35 years. I’ve seen some really good things. This is extraordinary. This really bodes well for us being able to get a handle on the epidemic and get us out of this situation.”

The trial has enrolled  43,538 volunteers and 38,955 have received their second dose..

Some Key Questions Remain

However, these are only sparse findings from the late-stage trial. Specific information on whether the vaccine prevents critical cases, or whether it prevents people from carrying the virus without symptoms, or for how long the vaccine can provide protection to a person - are still unknown.

Data from earlier did show that the candidate causes side effects such as aches and fevers.

Therefore, while the latest development is welcoming, experts warn against reaching any conclusions before deciding on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. As FIT has previously explained, vaccine development is a long process, and while we are currently witnessing record-breaking speed, all the necessary steps need to be followed diligently before one is put to use.

How Does an mRNA Vaccine Work?

The technology in use is relatively new - it involves using genetic material from the virus called mRNA. This method has not been used to create a vaccine so far.

It uses a genetic platform called mRNA, short for messenger RNA, which directs the body’s cells to stimulate the immune system.

(With inputs from The New York Times and STAT)

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