Pfizer claims its COVID-19 vaccine 90% effective
Pfizer said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90 percent effective, a major victory in the fight against a virus that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.
The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek US authorization this month for emergency use of the vaccine.
Health experts said Pfizer’s results were positive for all COVID-19 vaccines currently in development since they show the shots are going after the right target and are a proof of concept that the disease can be halted with vaccination.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive said.
“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.”
If Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized, the number of doses will initially be limited and many questions remain, including how long the vaccine will provide protection.
BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said he was optimistic the immunization effect of the vaccine would last for a year although that was not certain yet.
“The efficacy data are really impressive. This is better than most of us anticipated,” said William Schaffner, infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. “The study isn’t completed yet, but nonetheless the data look very solid.”
Pfizer expects to seek broad US authorization for emergency use of the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85. To do so, it will need two months of safety data from about half the study’s 44,000 participants, which is expected late this month.
Pfizer and BioNTech have a US$1.95 billion contract with the US to deliver 100 million doses from this year. They have also reached agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.
The companies began manufacturing the vaccine before they knew if it would be effective. They expect to produce up to 50 million doses, or enough for 25 million people this year.
Pfizer said it expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.
The company did not break down exactly how many of those who fell ill received the vaccine.
The efficacy rate is well above the 50 percent effectiveness required by the US Food and Drug Administration for a coronavirus vaccine.