The drug maker Pfizer announced yesterday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.25 million people.
Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.
The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. No serious safety concerns have been observed, the company stated.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19,” said Dr Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks”, Dr Bourla added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the results suggesting 90% effectiveness are “just extraordinary,” adding: “Not very many people expected it would be as high as that. In addition, Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization’s Senior Adviser, said Pfizer’s vaccine could “fundamentally change the direction of this crisis” by March, when the U.N. agency hopes to start vaccinating high-risk groups.
Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 million to 20 million people, company executives have said. Former vaccine frontrunner Moderna, does not expect to have the trial data required to go for approval until the 25th of November, whilst AstraZeneca’s partnership with the University of Oxford expects results by the end of 2020.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, which uses the genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself, has been one of the leaders in the global vaccine race. The phase 3 trials have involved more than 43,000 people and are intended to establish whether the vaccine works. Volunteers are given either the Covid vaccine, which was administered in two shots about three weeks apart, or a placebo alternative such as the meningitis vaccine, and neither they nor their doctors know which they have had.
Read the Full Pfizer Press Release HERE