The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the world coming together in search of a cure for one of the biggest challenges of the century. While companies’ world over had been working tirelessly towards the development of an effective vaccine and continue to do so, Pfizer and BioNTech’s exciting Monday announcement instilled a feeling of hope amongst people around the globe, leading to stock markets climbing to new records and leaders welcoming the late-stage trial results with open arms. According to the pharmaceutical giant, the success of the Covid-19 vaccine trial was a “significant step forward” and has been found to be more than 90% effective in combating the deadly virus. Here’s everything you need to know about Pfizer’s vaccine:
- There are around a dozen vaccines that have reached the final stages of testing, but this is the first to show any substantial results.
- The drugmakers’ trial involved some 44,000 people in six countries, half of whom have been administered with the vaccine, while the other half were given a placebo – a treatment designed to have no effect. No safety concerns have been raised yet. Prior to conducting the current large-scale study, the companies ran smaller clinical trials starting in May that were specifically designed to detect warning signs about the vaccine’s safety. They tried out four versions of their vaccine and selected the one that produced the fewest cases of mild and moderate side effects, including fever and fatigue.
- Pfizer and BioNTech are now gripped with plans to apply for an emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of November if everything goes as planned and there are no last-minute delays. If their vaccine receives an emergency authorization from the F.D.A. and gets distributed to millions of people, the Centers for Disease Control and the F.D.A. will monitor them to make sure there’s no evidence of even rarer safety issues. Participants in the trial will also be monitored for two years.
- Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine must be kept at an ultra-cold temperature of -70 degrees Celsius before use, requiring a complex and costly distribution system that could prevent poorer nations from having reliable access due to inadequate power supplies. The company’s Chief Executive has said that it could have 30 to 40 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year, enough for 15 to 20 million people to get an initial shot and a booster three weeks later.
- Pfizer and BioNTech have stated they could increase the number to 1.3 billion doses a year. However, that is still far from enough to satisfy the world’s need for vaccines. If other vaccines also prove effective, companies will be able to manufacture them as well and help meet the demand.
- When it comes to who will receive the initial doses, people who are at higher risk for infection or are more vulnerable to the virus are likely to get priority as compared to their healthy counterparts. Those who are a part of the high-risk category include health care workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart conditions among others.
Many have questioned when the vaccine trial will be complete. According to Pfizer, it will continue until it reaches 164 cases of Covid-19 among volunteers, a number that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed is enough to tell how well the vaccine is working, after which results will be analyzed. While everyone has high hopes from the Covid-19 vaccine, the effectiveness of it cannot be determined through clinical trial estimates and we will not know until millions of people get it. The World Health Organization deemed the results as positive but warned of a funding gap of $4.5bn which could affect people in low and middle-income countries from gaining immediate access.