More than eight months into humanity’s fight with Covid-19, American drugmaker Pfizer has announced that an early vaccine trial has been successful in preventing the virus, suggesting that it is more than 90% effective in patients with no previous exposure to Covid.
According to The New York Times, the information came via a press release, not a peer-reviewed medical journal, which means the results are not entirely definitive. Nevertheless, the news is hopeful in the face of Covid-19, which has thus far killed 1.2 million people and continues to rage throughout the U.S. and world. The release came Monday after the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts. According to the release, Pfizer plans to submit the data from their Phase 3 trial for peer-review. (Rolling Stone wrote about the early phases of the trial in a feature last month.)
Pfizer developed the two-dose vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech and started working on preventative measures back in January when infections were beginning to emerge; they plan to ask the FDA for rapid authorization of the vaccine later this month and hope to have made enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people by the end of the year after collecting two months of safety data. According to the release, they aim to create 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
“This is a historical moment,” Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said (via the Times). “This was a devastating situation, a pandemic, and we have embarked on a path and a goal that nobody ever has achieved — to come up with a vaccine within a year.”
Jansen has tried to distance Pfizer from American politics — including President Trump’s dubious claims about having a vaccine before Election Day — and did not accept any federal money when developing the possible vaccine. As such, she asserts that their efforts were never a part of government effort Operation Warp Speed, which works to rush a solution to Americans. The trial is still continuing, as the drugmaker aims to analyze the vaccine’s efficacy in up to 164 confirmed cases of Covid-19. They’ve currently evaluated 94 cases.
“There’s a lot at stake for humanity,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s C.E.O., said (via the Times). “If we get it right, the world can be saved.”