On Monday (Nov. 9), pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. announced that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is now more than 90 percent effective, marking a major advancement in defense against the novel disease. Reuters reports that Pfizer and their German partner BioNTech are the first companies to release successful data from a large-scale vaccine clinical trial.
According to a statement from the drugmakers, the vaccine hasn’t posed any serious safety concerns and they expect to seek U.S. authorization for emergency use of the vaccine this month.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Albert Bourla said. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most — with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”
Reuters reports that if the new vaccine is authorized, the number of doses given out will be limited at first. BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin believes the vaccine would provide protection against Coronavirus for a year, although this hasn’t been confirmed yet.
“I’m near ecstatic,” Bill Gruber — one of Pfizer’s scientists — told the outlet. “This is a great day for public health and for the potential to get us all out of the circumstances we’re now in.”
Pfizer plans to seek broad U.S. authorization to make the vaccine available for people ages 16 to 85. In order to be authorized for emergency use, the companies will need to provide two months of safety data from around half of the study’s 44,000 participants, which will be released later this month.
The news arrived on the same day that President-Elect Joe Biden unveiled a new COVID-19 defense plan on his website. Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ seven-point plan includes ramping up testing sites and free testing, increasing production of PPE and a “restart package” for small businesses.