The approval of an effective vaccine against Covid-19, the achievement called to be a turning point in the fight against the pandemic, seems a little closer today.
The vaccine project of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German laboratory BionTech is capable of preventing 90% of coronavirus infections, according to preliminary results announced this Monday, certified by an independent external committee.
“The vaccine candidate has proven more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 in participants with no evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analyzes,” announced Pfizer, after of what 94 of the 45,538 participants in the last phase of clinical trials have been infected. Presumably, almost all of those infected would have received the placebo and not the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine is one of the four projects with which the European Commission negotiates an advance purchase contract, having already closed three with AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson. According to Reuters, the agreement is imminent.
Generates protection 28 days after the first dose
According to the statement issued by Pfizer, no serious safety problems have been noted and the pharmaceutical company hopes to send the request for approval of the vaccine to the US regulatory authority, the FDA, within a week, waiting for the number of infected volunteers to reach 164.
The preliminary analysis of the results of phase III clinical trials, which began on July 27, has certified that the balance of infected between those who had received a placebo and those who had received the vaccine shows that they had prevented 90 % of infections.
The results were recorded seven days after inoculating the second of the two necessary doses, which means that the vaccine generates protection 28 days after receiving the first dose.
“With today’s news, we are an important step closer to bringing much needed progress to the world’s population to help end this global health threat,” said, in the Pfizer statement, the president of the pharmaceutical company, Albert Bourla. “Today is a great day for science and humanity.”
Up to 50 million doses in 2020
The announcement made by Pfizer, pending the final conclusions of the clinical trial, which will have to be published in a scientific journal and peer reviewed, have unleashed euphoria in the financial markets, especially around the actions of the pharmaceutical company, that soared 12% at the opening of Wall Street.
The Pfizer and BionTech vaccine is thus at the forefront of the international race for being the first to be approved, followed by close projects such as AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which this Monday began to produce doses in Australia with a view to starting vaccinations in March.
Pfizer plans to produce up to 50 million doses of its vaccine globally this year and up to 1,300 million doses in 2021, although the main challenge will be its storage and distribution, since it needs to be kept at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for its part, has defended, also this Monday, that a vaccine against Covid-19 is urgent but will not solve the causes that allowed the coronavirus to become a pandemic, in particular the deficit widespread investment in healthcare systems.
“A Vaccine Will Not Solve Global Underinvestment in Public Health and Strong Health Systems, nor the urgent need for a single approach that includes human, animal and planet health, “said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.