Story at a glance

  • After clinical data showed a 90 percent efficacy rate, Pfizer and BioNTech officials say more data suggests their COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing an infection.
  • Initial doses of the vaccine are expected to be ready by the end of 2020.

Pfizer, having just made an earlier groundbreaking announcement about efficacy data of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, announced Wednesday that an efficacy analysis suggests the vaccine is 95 percent effective against COVID-19 within 28 days after the first dosage.

The vaccine, dubbed BNT162b2, was administered in a phase 3 human study across a group receiving the vaccine and a control group receiving a placebo.

Following the first administered dose of the vaccine, researchers observed that a total of 170 participants without prior coronavirus infections contracted COVID-19.


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Within this group, 162 of the infected individuals were from the placebo group, while just eight of the participants who contracted the virus were from the BNT162b2 vaccine group.

These results indicate that those who received the vaccine were less likely to contract a COVID-19 infection if exposed. 

“The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic. We continue to move at the speed of science to compile all the data collected thus far and share with regulators around the world,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO, said in prepared comments. “With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world.”

Pfizer, in partnership with the German drug company BioNTech, announced last week that its vaccine candidate saw an approximate 90 percent efficacy rate from clinical trials, an already high figure considering public health experts like Anthony Fauci previously said that they would have settled for an efficacy rate of at least 70 to 75 percent.

The dosage amount given to participants was a 30 microgram dose, a fairly small amount. 

“We are grateful that the first global trial to reach the final efficacy analysis mark indicates that a high rate of protection against COVID-19 can be achieved very fast after the first 30 µg dose, underscoring the power of BNT162 in providing early protection,” Ugur Sahin CEO of BioNTech said.

Given the seemingly solid safety and efficacy data, BNT162b2 will be submitted for Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the press release. Other global regulatory agencies will also be given the data to review.

Current projections suggest that the companies will be prepared to produce 50 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and another 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. 

Per Pfizer’s deal with the U.S. government as part of Operation Warp Speed, 100 million doses of the vaccine were bought by the U.S. Pfizer did not receive any federal funding from Operation Warp Speed when developing its vaccine. 

Fellow pharmaceutical company Moderna recently released data showing its vaccine candidate had similar efficacy results of 94.5 percent. Both vaccine candidates are made with messenger RNA, an integral molecule to protein synthesis within a cell. mRNA vaccines broadly aim to help the body trigger an immune response to a foreign pathogen.

“These achievements highlight the potential of mRNA as a new drug class,” Sahin added. 

To help ship the drug, which must be kept at minus 70 Celsius conditions, Pfizer has already launched a delivery pilot program across four states.


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Published on Nov 18, 2020