The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly put a strain on the world in 2020. Businesses have been struggling to keep their doors open and people have had a difficult time coping with the lockdowns that have been put in place to contain the outbreak. It has fundamentally changed the way businesses operate and changed the dynamics of people’s day-to-day lives. With 8 out of 10 businesses already failing to sell, according to Forbes, it is reasonable to expect that the pandemic has had an adverse effect on this already startling statistic as these are truly unprecedented times. Fortunately, however, the United States may be on the brink of developing a vaccine with an efficacy rate much higher than anticipated.
On Monday, Pfizer, an international pharmaceutical company, and BioNTech, a German biotech company, announced that the COVID vaccines they have been developing over the past few months had an efficacy rate greater than 90% as a preventative measure in those who had yet to come in contact with the virus. Initially, scientists were hoping for a vaccine with an efficacy rate of at least 75%, while White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Fauci believed an efficacy rate of 50% or 60% would be a leap in the right direction. According to CNBC, Pfizer CEO and Chairman Dr. Albert Bourla said, “I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years, if you count the impact this will have in public health, global economy.”
The analysis of the vaccine was conducted by an external Data Monitoring Committee which oversees U.S. clinical trials to ensure the participants safety. The phase three trial evaluated a total of 43,538 participants. Only 94 of those who participated were confirmed positive. The case study was split between individuals who received the vaccine and those who received a placebo. According to Pfizer and BioNTech, the study indicated an efficacy rate over 90% after seven days of the second dose of the vaccine. This shows that 28 days after the initial dose, individuals are protected from COVID. The vaccine consists of a two-dose schedule. While the final vaccine efficacy rate remains unknown, these are very promising numbers.
Although the initial data on the vaccine has been positive, there is more information that needs to be gathered, such as the vaccines safety. The FDA determined it wants to see two months of safety outcomes post vaccination for no less than 50% of the participants before a vaccine can be rolled out to the general public. According to Pfizer, there have been no safety issues thus far, and they expect to have two months of data at the end of November. The company also states that they expect to produce up to 50 million doses before the end of 2020 (enough for 25 million people due to the two-dose schedule) and about 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Although a coronavirus vaccine is dependent upon the safety outcomes of the final trial and the rate at which vaccines can be produced and distributed, high risk groups could begin receiving the vaccine before the year is out. The question is, would you and your family take the vaccine?