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Pfizer says COVID vaccine is 90% effective and ‘Great day for humanity’ in statement on trials

A needle use to vaccinate patients at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Calif. where COVID-19 vaccine is being tested. (Carline Jean/Sun Sentinel/TNS)
November 09, 2020

The experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the drug maker Pfizer prevented more than 90 percent of infections, according to a new study of tens of thousands of volunteers.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE are the first team attempting a vaccine to release successful outcomes as a result of a large-scale clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from Pfizer early Monday.

Both companies said no serious safety concerns have been found and they anticipate U.S. authorization of the vaccine for emergency use by the end of November.

All COVID-19 vaccines in development saw positive results, health experts said, showing that the coronavirus can be stopped with a vaccine.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive.

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The positive early data is a “milestone” in development of the vaccine, but the number of doses will be limited if the vaccine is authorized as many questions still go unanswered, including how long the vaccine will be effective.

“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,” Bourla said. “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.”

Reuters reported that BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said he was hopeful the vaccine’s effect would last for a year.

Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of Oxford, said “This news made me smile from ear to ear. It is a relief to see such positive results on this vaccine and bodes well for COVID-19 vaccines in general.”

The Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine started in the end of July, enrolling 43,538 participants to date with nearly 40,000 receiving a second dose of the vaccine as of November 8. Roughly 30 percent of participants in the United States and 42 percent of global participants are racially and ethnically diverse.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the United States has had 9,808,411 total cases of coronavirus as of November 9. Of the almost 10 million cases, 236,547 have died, the majority of which had underlying medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, smoking,  cancer, and heart conditions.