WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech revealed that their COVID-19 vaccine has achieved a 90 percent efficacy in protecting people from contracting the virus.
- The trial involved 43,000 participants including 94 cases confirmed to have tested positive for the virus who were given either vaccine doses or a placebo shot.
- Experts like Saad Omer not involved in the development of the vaccine say the newest data could have a significant impact on bending the curve of this pandemic.
Preliminary results from vaccine developer Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech indicate that their COVID-19 vaccine is effective by more than 90 percent compared to trial participants who received a placebo, states a Pfizer statement on November 9.
“This is extraordinary,” William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, tells STAT. “This really bodes well for us being able to get a handle on the epidemic and get us out of this situation.”
Although the interim analysis doesn’t say how many of the 43,000 participants in the trial who were given either vaccine doses or the placebo was infected with the coronavirus, 94 other confirmed cases were included. Of these 94, about 10 percent received the vaccine while 90 percent got the placebo.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases tells the Associated Press that the 90 percent capability is “just extraordinary” adding that only a few people thought the results would exceed their expectations.
Saad Omer, Yale Institute for Global Health director also tells The New York Times that if the final vaccine reaches that level of efficacy, then “this vaccine could have a serious impact on bending the curve of this outbreak.”
Both companies have yet to disclose the complete results of the analysis which hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet by experts outside the study or presented in a medical publication.
Brown University Dean of Public Health, Ashish Jha, says he looks forward to examining the complete results.
“If that headline number really holds up, that is huge. That is much better than I was expecting, and it will make a huge difference.”
Although an earlier vaccine in August reported side effects such as fatigue, chills, and fever among the older and younger participants, an independent data monitoring board noted that the latest results showed no severe safety concerns among those who were vaccinated.
As per the guidelines from the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), any COVID-19 vaccine needs to be at least 50 percent efficient for it to be approved. Pfizer is now working to reach 164 infections among all trial volunteers to establish its efficacy.
Source: The Scientist