Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine shows 95% efficacy

Published on Nov 19, 2020

Pfizer and BioNTech, on Wednesday, 18th November, 2020, gave an update on the previously announced success of their covid-19 vaccine. The U.S. pharma giant and its German biotech partner reported a vaccine efficacy of 95% for their candidate, drawing on the final analysis of a 43,000-person study. The efficacy of the vaccine only drops to 94% in adults over 65 years.

As opposed to the initial report last week that their vaccine had more than 90% efficacy, Pfizer and BioNTech are providing more precise data now that the study has reached enough covid-19 cases to end. Altogether, the trial had 162 confirmed cases of symptomatic covid-19 in the placebo group versus 8 among those who received the two scheduled doses of the vaccine. The efficacy, which was measured seven days after the second dose of the vaccine, was identical in different races, genders, and ethnicities, though subgroup analyses always have more uncertainty. Nine of the 10 people who had severe cases of covid-19 during the trial received the placebo, which shows that even if the vaccine fails to avert symptomatic disease, it still offers powerful protection from serious harm. To date, the company has not reported any serious side effects, although 3.7% of the vaccinated reported fatigue after the injections.

The results are nearly similar to preliminary findings reported by Moderna on 16th November from its ongoing efficacy trial. Both its vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate comprises of messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes for the surface protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. The strategy is novel—no medicines made from mRNA have been approved for general human use so far.

The Pfizer/BioNTech collaboration says it will submit a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its vaccine. If recent history repeats itself, Moderna will follow suit after one week. The Food and Drug Administration has said it will convene its independent vaccine advisory committee to review any covid-19 EUA requests, and the first meeting could occur as early as 9th December.

“This is a remarkable and very reassuring situation that we find ourselves in,” says Trudie Lang, who directs the Global Health Network at the University of Oxford. “To go from identifying a new virus to having several vaccines at the point of applying for regulatory approval is an incredible milestone for science.”

As we keep fighting this novel virus, let’s endeavor to take necessary precautions and stay safe- Surjen.

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