Pfizer and BioNTech described today as a “great day for science and humanity,” as they announced their vaccine for the coronavirus is the first of its kind that can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, after a preliminary analysis.
The vaccine itself has been tested on more than 43,500 people across six different countries without any major safety concerns emerging. The companies are now planning to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the year and begin to minimize the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic once and for all.
Dr Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer who worked alongside some of the scientists working on the vaccine, claimed that after the announcement was made that the vaccine was 90% effective there was not one scientist in the room that wasn’t “smiling ear to ear,” with some suggesting they could see life “returning to normal by the spring.”
“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.”
A vaccine has been seen as the best way for the world to return to a sense of normalcy and no longer need the many restrictions that we’ve all gotten used to within the past nine months. Within the past few months there have been a little over a dozen vaccines in their final stages of testing. This final stage is known as “phase 3” and is one of the most critical parts of vaccine development as that’s when it’s mass tested.
This specific vaccine uses an experimental approach that injects part of the virus’s genetic code into the patient to “train” the immune system into learning what the virus looks like so the body can attack it. Two doses, three weeks apart, are needed. The trials took place in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey and showed 90% protection being achieved seven days after the second dose.
Pfizer claims it will be able to supply 50 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. The UK will likely get 10 million doses by the end of the year with another 30 million already pre-ordered.
This development, however, doesn’t give us a clear picture of when this pandemic will specifically end, but instead a more hopeful look into the future of 2021. Hospital staff, healthcare workers, and other prioritized populations will likely be vaccinated first as they are the most at risk for contracting and spreading the virus. Face masks and social distancing will likely be a part of our lives for quite some time until even distribution of the vaccine is achieved. ‘
Pfizer and BioNTech claim that they will have enough data by the third week of November to make a case to regulators for distribution. While that may mean it could still be months before the general public sees a vaccine hit the market, this milestone is a huge step in the right direction for a world that has been stuck inside since March.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.