Pfizer has announced that its coronavirus vaccine Phase 3 trials showed over 90% efficacy in preventing infection from the virus, providing much-needed hope for people worldwide suffering from the health crisis.
Despite the results being based on early tests and incomplete trials, the massively positive developments allow nations to expect breathing space amid the pandemic.
The announcement also came less than a week after the elections that showed Donald Trump’s apparent mishandling of the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has taken over 1.2 million lives globally, the United States accounting for nearly a quarter of a million deaths.
The pharmaceutical company’s senior vice president of clinical development, Dr. William Gruber, said the early results provide them the flexibility to be optimistic about the vaccine. He added the vastly positive development boosted their morale during the process.
In tandem with German partner BioNTech, Pfizer is scheduled to apply its experimental vaccine for emergency use-approval later this month. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will assess the data and necessary safety information to see if the treatment has undergone the required trials and tests.
However, authorities are still anxious despite the positive results. Officials stressed that it would be unlikely any vaccine would be distributed before the end of the year and that what does get released would be severely controlled.
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed his surprise that early results showed an over 90% effectivity. The medical expert noted that most people and medical professionals did not expect such a high success rate, the San Francisco Gate reported.
Pfizer’s Phase 3 trials involved 43,538 participants, 42% of which, officials said, had diverse backgrounds. Medical professionals gave each volunteer two injections of the experimental vaccine with 21 days in between.
The company then assessed the results by comparing the number of individuals infected with the COVID-19 virus to the number recorded from another group who were given placebo injections.
The two companies released a news statement of the results from 94 evaluable coronavirus cases among the volunteers. The data showed that the vaccine was over 90% effective in preventing the patient from transmitting the virus. The FDA has a minimum effective rate of 50% to pass for emergency use.
Gruber said he was optimistic about the early test results after working in the vaccine industry for more than 35 years. The medical professional noted their experimental drug’s extraordinary potential and others under development by separate pharmaceutical companies, NPR reported.
A professor of medicine at Oxford University, John Bell, acknowledged Pfizer’s amazing achievement with its experimental treatment. He told reporters that the data gave him the confidence to believe that the world would return to normal by spring with the vaccine’s help.
Manufacture of the vaccine is already underway, with Pfizer expecting global supply to reach 50 million doses this year. Officials also predict that in 2021, the company would be able to produce about 1.3 billion doses.
However, with the development of a coronavirus vaccine, countries must now decide how to properly distribute the available doses during the early stages of production.
The joint committee on vaccination and immunization in the UK recommended that care home workers and residents be first on the priority list of vaccine receivers. It added that next in line should be elderly over the age of 80 and social care workers.
The results come too late for Trump to use in his campaign, but his vice president, Mike Pence, claimed that the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” helped develop the vaccine.
However, Pfizer denied the statement, with the company’s senior vice president, Kathrin Jansen, saying they were never a part of the program. She added Pfizer had not received any financial support from the government or third-party organization, The Guardian reported.