The Big Pfizer Vaccine News Brings Us One Step Closer to Ending COVID
On Monday, drug company Pfizer announced that the latest data from their coronavirus vaccine is extremely promising. According to them, the vaccine was over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19—which means it has far surpassed the expectations of health experts around the world.
"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," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks." In response, stocks soared and hopes rose. Read on to see what this news really means, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
What Does This Vaccine News Mean?
"It seems that 90% fewer symptomatic cases of COVID-19 occurred in the arm of the study that received two vaccinations three weeks apart—that was compared to a placebo group," Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and expert in pandemic preparedness explains to Eat This, Not That! Health.
As part of the testing, 43,000 people were given two doses of either the vaccine or the placebo. Of the total COVID-19 infections, just 10% were in the group of those who received the vaccine while a whopping 90% were in those given the placebo. According to Pfizer, the vaccine starts working its magic and provides protection against the potentially deadly virus seven days after the second dose and 28 days following the first.
So far they have monitored 94 confirmed cases, with a goal of reaching 164 to complete the trial. They are hoping to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA after the volunteers have been monitored for two months following their second dose, which should be by the third week of November.
The Results are "Very Encouraging" But This is Not a Cure Yet
While Dr. Mareiniss finds the results "very encouraging," he points out that they are by no means an instantaneous and miraculous cure for the virus, responsible for the deaths of over 238,000 Americans in just nine months.
There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. First of all, the data is not yet peer-reviewed, an important component of verification of a scientific study or trial. "It's hard to see the full picture and critically review this from just a press release," he explains.
He also points out that while the Pfizer vaccine may help prevent COVID-19 infection, "It's unclear how long immunity may last," from this information.
There is also the issue of supply, distribution, and other logistics. "We must consider that there will be limited supplies of vaccine and states/hospitals are already working on allocation guidelines," he explains. If the vaccine proves safe and effective, Pfizer estimates that it could produce 50 million doses by the end of the year. "The task of distributing the vaccine will be challenging as well." And, one of the logistical issues is the mRNA vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperature — negative 70 degrees Celsius. "It makes transporting and distributing the vaccine challenging," he points out.