The results of preliminary analysis of testing of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has shown up to 90 percent effectiveness. The efficacy of the vaccine is claimed to be much better than expected.
The effectiveness of the vaccine is based on 43,000 volunteers who received two doses of the vaccine compared to a placebo, only 94 subjects were confirmed to be exposed to COVID-19. Hence, less than 10 percent of infections occurred in participants who had been given the vaccine and more than 90 percent of cases occurred in people who had been given the placebo.
The pharmaceutical company says that this vaccine provides protection seven days after the second dose and 28 days after the initial dose of the vaccine is given. The ultimate goal of the COVID-19 vaccine trial is to reach 164 confirmed cases of infection.
It is worth noting that the results do not reflect complete immunity against infection, but protection against COVID-19 illness. All of the participants were asked to report any symptoms of COVID-19 they experienced, and once symptoms were reported, the participants were tested. Researchers then compared the disease outcomes between those getting the vaccine and the others getting the placebo.
Pfizer is planning to seek emergency clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as soon as vaccine volunteers are monitored for two months after receiving the second dose of vaccine. Since 27th July, the Pfizer vaccine trial, made in conjunction with Germany’s BioNtech, has enrolled 43,538 participants.
As of Sunday 8th November, 38,955 volunteers had received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer. 42 percent of Pfizer’s phase three vaccine trials are being conducted internationally and 30 percent of trials in the US involve volunteers from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the company was one step closer to delivering the breakthrough that people around the world needed to help end the global health crisis.
“We hope to share additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks,” Bourla said.
Pfizer is the first company to release results from its COVID-19 vaccine, part of a planned interim analysis by an independent data safety monitoring board that is reviewing all of the vaccine candidates from different companies that are currently being tested in people. The findings represent results collected seven days after the second of Pfizer’s two-shot regimen.
“I have been in vaccine development for more than 35 years, and in my most optimistic moment did not expect efficacy of 90 percent. My most optimistic expectation was 75 or 80 percent, so this is a remarkable outcome,” claimed Head of Clinical Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer, Bill Gruber.
Although these positive results still have incomplete data, this vaccine is one step closer to securing a permit for widespread use. Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, the plan is for the vaccine to be distributed this month or next, even though the United States health regulator, namely the FDA, has indicated to the need to conduct a review of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Hopefully, we can now go ahead and get this vaccine out there and make sure it does what it needs to do and stops the virus,” said Chief Researcher and Vaccine Development at Pfizer, Kathrin Jansen.
Pfizer still points to the FDA which expects at least 50 percent efficacy from any coronavirus vaccine with two months of monitoring. Pfizer said it would continue to collect enough data for two months regarding the safety data for the vaccine during the third week of November so that it could apply for authorisation for emergency use immediately.
Additional data may also reveal how contagious asymptomatic infected people could be in containing the global pandemic.
“Now, given the high level of protection for relatively mild disease, there is a chance to protect against infection as well. But we won’t know the answer to that until the end of the trial,” added Gruber.
In this light of the announcement, international stock prices have increased. The MSCI All Country World Index hit a new high on Monday as equities soared overseas.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 reached a record high and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.8 percent. Moreover, France’s CAC 40 climbed to 7.5 percent and Germany’s DAX rose by nearly 5 percent.