Pfizer ends COVID-19 vaccine trial with 95% success rate

Thursday, 19 Nov, 2020

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says Ireland will receive its fair share of the vaccine if and when they become available.

Now, with the possibility of an effective vaccine hitting the market becoming a real possibility in the near future, many people have expressed doubts about the safety and efficacy of a vaccine that is developed in such a short time.

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that a completed study of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine showed it was 95 percent effective. Moderna Inc on Monday released preliminary data for its vaccine, showing 94.5pc effectiveness.

United States pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Wednesday announced that their vaccine candidate, after the final efficacy analysis in their ongoing phase-3 clinical trial, indicates an efficacy rate of 95 per cent in volunteers without prior Covid-19 infection.

"Definition of a good vaccine = 1".

Scientists said the data was further encouraging news, with Prof Trudie Lang from the University of Oxford describing it as "a remarkable and very reassuring situation".

For one, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (- 94 degrees Fahrenheit) while the Moderna vaccine only needs -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), more akin to a regular freezer. To date, the Data Monitoring Committee for the study has not reported any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine.

The only Grade 3 (severe) solicited adverse events greater than or equal to 2% in frequency after the first or second dose were fatigue at 3.8% and headache at 2.0% following dose 2. All of the COVID-19 cases in the study were confirmed after people reported symptoms of infection; researchers then looked at those who were positive for COVID-19 and compared the vaccinated and placebo groups for whether they developed more symptoms of the disease. Also still to be determined are important questions such as how long protection lasts and whether people might need boosters. A similar review of Moderna's vaccine found it to be 94.5% effective. However, both Moderna and Pfizer are built on a two-dose model, whereas Johnson & Johnson's JNJ-78436735 requires a single jab.

That process could still take a few weeks.

US officials have said they hope to have about 20 million vaccine doses each from Moderna and Pfizer available for distribution in late December. But remember: it's a two-shot vaccine.

"I don't really expect a competitive situation over the first nine months because every dose of approved vaccine that anyone can supply is welcome and will likely be used".

It is expected that an effective vaccine for Corona will come soon.

Giving an update, they said that a final efficacy analysis from ongoing advanced trials on the vaccine candidate had met all the study's primary endpoints and indicated an efficacy rate of 95 per cent.

Pfizer plans to produce 50 million doses of its vaccine by the end of 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses through 2021 at its four manufacturing plants in Andover, Mass.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Puurs, Belgium.

Separately, COVAXIN, which is an indigenous vaccine, went into phase three trials recently.

Both use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology to deliver genetic material to the body that makes human cells create a protein from the virus.

Health departments and hospitals across the country are now acquiring freezers that can store the vaccine.

Israel also has an agreement with Moderna, though the number of vaccines has not been disclosed.

The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is also poised to fast-track authorisation of the vaccine.