Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine study shows it offers 90% protection

The US. giant Pfizer and its German mRNA partner BioNTech emerge as frontrunners in Covid-19 vaccine race after sterling Phase III results.

In its first interim analysis, the pair’s mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, has shown it is more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 in patients who have no prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Though the data is based on findings from the first 94 enrolled in its 43,500-participants trial, the news are nonetheless encouraging and were well received across the globe, with major indices reacting positively to the announcement.

South Africa is one of the six countries taking part in the ground-breaking trial. The country's extensive network of experienced clinical trial sites along with its diverse population positions it well for such multinational studies looking to expose experimental drugs to varying populations. Other countries taking part include the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey. The two companies plan to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the end of the month as they hope mass rollout in 2021.

The findings suggest that two doses, administered three weeks apart, are needed to bring out the reported therapeutic effect. No safety concerns were highlighted during the preliminary analysis. As the narrative shifts towards how quickly this can be made available for wider use, Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, mentioned the company aims to have 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine ready by 2021. For 2020, the duo would only be able to supply 50 million doses.