Pfizer trial nearly complete; coronavirus vaccine reaching 90% effectiveness

Pfizer and BioNTech announced early Monday morning that their coronavirus vaccine trial is nearly complete and that it has achieved over 90% effectiveness, sparking a 1200-point stock market rise on the news. 

The vaccine makers said they had 94 confirmed coronavirus cases among the 43,538 who were vaccinated in the trial. A rate of 50% effectiveness is required to get FDA approval.

They also said they would have safety data available for FDA emergency use authorization by the third week of November, which means that some people could get the vaccine before the end of this year if it is approved.

Two doses of the vaccine are necessary with protection after 28 days, The Hill reported.

“Critical milestone” reached

“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,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks,” he added.

President Donald Trump has already purchased 100 million doses of the vaccine through his Operation Warp Speed, to be delivered between December and March, with the ability to purchase 500 million more doses as they become available.

People will be able to get these vaccines at no cost to them as part of the program, The Hill said.

Positive reaction to news

“My personal hope is to see people vaccinated in the U.S. before the end of the year,” Pfizer vaccine official Alejandro Cané said. “Definitely that is our hope and we are working so, so hard to have the information that the FDA required in order to fulfill their requirements and to have the safe and efficacious vaccine available.”

Others in the medical and research fields also reacted positively to the news.

“There is some pretty fabulous news out today on the vaccine front,” Brown University School of Public Health Dean Ashish Jha tweeted, adding that he needs to see the full data. “I am pleasantly surprised.”

“We believe these interim results also increase the probability of success of other Covid-19 candidate vaccines which use a similar approach,” CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said in a statement.

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