Pfizer Announces Vaccine 94% Effective in Seniors, Seeks Emergency Authorization

File Photo

In the most recent blockbuster findings on the ongoing coronavirus vaccine trials, the US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer stated on Wednesday that its vaccine is “94% effective on those over 65.”

This demographic is the one at most risk for contracting the virus and the stunning news, coming on the heels of last Monday’s bombshell revelation that overall the vaccine has proven to be 90% effective, allows many to start breathing an enormous sigh of relief in this pandemic-ravaged world.

In a triumphal Tweet coming out on Wednesday morning in the US, Pfizer stated “Breaking: We are proud to announce, along with BioNTech Group, that the Phase 3 Study of our Covid-19 candidate that our candidate has met all primary efficacy endpoints.”

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a native of Thessaloniki, Greece, stated in his own Tweet that he had “more good news to share” on top of the already enormous news of the vaccine’s overall effectiveness which came out last Monday.

Produced jointly with the German firm BioNTech, and with $1.95 billion in funding from the American government, the vaccine also appears so far to have worked well in producing immunity in people from all races, ages and ethnic groups.

Pfizer has now said that it will pursue an authorization for emergency use of the vaccine in the United States so that shots will be able to be given out as soon as possible to members of the public.

The vaccine is given in two doses, with shots placed 28 days apart. Immunization is only achieved after the second dose. The firms say that at this point there are no safety concerns at all surrounding the vaccine.

Just this week, the US firm Moderna announced its own vaccine, which like Pfizer’s also works with the virus’ own RNA to spur the body to produce immunity, provided 95% protection agains the virus.

The Wednesday announcement stated that the vaccine’s effectiveness was based on the fact that of the 170 cases of Covid-19 that were contracted among the many thousands of volunteers during the study, only eight of those people had taken the experimental vaccine.

The individuals in the control group in the study were given a placebo injection.

Despite the full data being incomplete at the present time, the majority of the research has been completed on the vaccine’s subjects and there are no safety concerns noted — other than the usual headaches and body aches that are always associated with immunizations.

In the trial, which involved 30,000 volunteers from many different ethnic backgrounds, fully 41% are aged between 56 and 85. As many as 150 different locations around the world were involved in the trials, including the United States, Germany, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil and Argentina.

The trials will still be ongoing for another two years.

Pfizer and BioNTech say that they are capable of producing up to 50 million doses of the vaccine in 2020 — and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of next year.

The BBC has reported that the UK has preordered 40 million doses and is expecting to receive 10 million by the end of December. Updated information on the Oxford University- Astra Zeneca vaccine, also currently undergoing phase three trials, is expected to be released soon.

Unfortunately, ultra-cold temperatures are needed for both the Pfizer BioNTech and the Moderna vaccine, since they are made with RNA. This will make it more expensive and more difficult to store and transport them.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at approximately minus 80C, although it can be refrigerated for five days before use. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at the much easier to maintain temperature of minus 20C for up to six months and refrigerated for up to one month.