Pfizer is one step closer to a COVID-19 vaccine. The pharmaceutical company has announced that a final analysis of their Phase 3 trial found its vaccine candidate to be 95% effective.
That’s higher than the company’s initial claim of 90% efficacy when preliminary results were released early last week.
Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi shares how he feels about this news:
This is more fantastic news that I am excited to share. Because a vaccine will really give us a fighting chance against this virus. Now, of the 170 cases of infections, only 8 of them were in the group that received the vaccine. So that means that 162 participants that got sick were in the placebo group – meaning that they were given saline shots.
Now, you’re likely wondering how sick did these folks get. And I can tell you that there were a total of 10 severe cases. 9 of these were in the placebo group, and 1 was in the vaccinated group. So not only does it appear to prevent severe disease, but the data also showed that the vaccine was 94% effective for folks who are 65 and older. This is amazing because we know that this age group is more susceptible to severe disease.
Overall, there were no serious safety concerns reported. As for side-effects, most people tolerated the shots fairly well. The only severe side effect noted was fatigue. And only about 3.7% of participants noted severe fatigue after they were given the second dose. And what was a bit surprising to me, was that older folks were less likely to experience side-effects. And if they did get any, they were on the milder side.
On Monday, I shared how the vaccine is temperature sensitive and needs to be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Way colder than most freezers at health care facilities. So what Pfizer is planning on doing is using custom packaging. They’ll ship the vaccine in special thermal containers with dry ice. And this will keep the interior temperature super cold for 15 days.
If the FDA approves this vaccine, it will be a huge milestone. Because this would be the first vaccine based on mRNA technology. It’s completely new and works by telling cells in the body to make copies of the virus’ spike protein so that protective antibodies are created. But back to your question, it could take weeks for the FDA to review and evaluate all the data.
But I’m sure they’ll do this as quickly as possible since our caseload all across America continues to climb. So while a vaccine could be approved in the coming weeks, it still won’t be available to the general public for quite some time. So we all need to continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones by following safety protocols.
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