The Pfizer vaccine has seen strong results from initial clinical trials.
There’s a long way to go and still plenty of hurdles to overcome, but one coronavirus vaccine trial is showing promising signs of efficacy, per results released today. US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer – one of many private companies working on a vaccine for Covid-19 – and partner BioNTech have just released initial results which show their vaccine may be up to 90% effective at preventing people from contracting coronavirus. Whilst the vaccine requires further testing and approval from regulatory bodies, there’s hope it could be saving lives and preventing transmission sooner rather than later – and the UK would be an early beneficiary, with up to 10 million doses potentially arriving by the year’s end.
A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that the UK has 40 million doses of this potential vaccine on order (with other competing vaccines, including one being developed at Oxford University, also on order), and could see as many as 10 million of these arrive before 2020 is done. Rigorous testing and reviewing of the Pfizer vaccine will continue apace, but early results show it has been tested on 43,500 people across six countries already, with no safety concerns raised. This particular vaccine requires two doses, three weeks apart, and could offer up to 90% protection from the virus a week after the second dose has been administered.
Though several regulatory hurdles are yet to be overcome, Pfizer is upbeat about the chances of providing a safe, effective, and widespread vaccine before long. The BBC reports that they’ll be seeking emergency approval to start using the vaccine by the end of the month, and thus begin shipping it to customers including the UK. The scientific community – who’ve warned repeatedly that getting a vaccine by the year’s end would be a Herculean effort – are upbeat about the chances of success, with Oxford professor of medicine and government adviser Sir John Bell telling Radio Four’s The World at One that life could be back to normal by the springtime if the vaccine became available soon.
2020 has taught us the hard way to take hopeful news with a pinch of salt, but the progress being made on a vaccine has been a rousing success, far outstripping the usual timeframe for developing such a treatment. We’ll be keeping our fingers firmly crossed for further news on the Pfizer vaccine, with the faint hope that life could be returning to normal sooner rather than later. Until then, keep the usual mix of face masks, hand washing, and social distancing going, and let’s hope further good news is on the horizon.