DORAL, FL – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, developed with German firm BioNTech, is proving to be 90% effective against the virus according to early data, revealed the pharmaceutical company on Monday, Nov.9.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development, said: “We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope…We’re very encouraged.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top-infectious disease expert, said the fact that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine suggests 90% effectiveness is “just extraordinary,” adding: “Not very many people expected it would be as high as that.”
Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective as scientists have warned that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as a flu vaccine, which is about 50% effective and require yearly shots.
The new findings has put the company on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration, although it would take a while before the vaccine reaches the entire population and there are still many unanswered questions remaining such as how long the vaccine’s effects last and whether it protects older people as well as younger ones.
Authorities have expressed it’s unlikely a vaccine, developed by any company, will be available for common use much before the end of the year. When it is in fact available, initial supplies will be rationed.
“We need to see the data, but this is extremely promising,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University, former chief of the FDA’s vaccine division.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, also a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner and a member of Pfizer’s board of directors, has a similar opinion with regards to the timeline of a vaccine.
“The vaccine is really a 2021 event in terms of when it’s going to provide protective immunity to that initial tranche of recipients. Then in terms of when it would be widely available, I think the hope still is … you could have a vaccine broadly maybe by the end of the second quarter, maybe into the third quarter. You’re looking at having the vaccine available in time for the fall 2021 Covid season,” he said to CNBC.
Pharmaceutical companies and various countries are competing to release a COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer and its German partner are among the 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world.
Moderna Inc., that has also conducted huge studies around the U.S., has also revealed it expects to file an application with the FDA later this month for its vaccine.
COVID-19 has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide, including almost a quarter-million just in the United States, with confirmed infections in the U.S. expected to eclipse 10 million on Monday, according to AP.