Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said Monday that initial data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective — a much better than expected efficacy than had even been hoped for.
Pfizer said that the vaccine, made with German partner BioNTech, had an efficacy rate higher than 90% at seven days after the second dose, which means protection is achieved 28 days after a person begins vaccination. The vaccine requires two doses. The US Food and Drug Administration has said it would expect at least 50% efficacy from any coronavirus vaccine.
The companies looked at the first 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the more than 43,000 volunteers who got either two doses of the vaccine or a placebo. It found that fewer than 10% of infections were in participants who had been given the vaccine. More than 90% of the cases were in people who had been given a placebo.
Pfizer and BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek U.S. emergency use authorization later this month.
If authorized, the number of vaccine doses will initially be limited. Many questions also remain including how long the vaccine will provide protection. However, the news provides hope that other vaccines in development against the novel coronavirus may also prove effective.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Pfizer’s findings of a coronavirus vaccine candidate that is more than 90% effective were “extraordinary,” per a report.
“The results are really quite good, I mean extraordinary,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to the Washington Post.
Pfizer expects to seek broad U.S. emergency use authorization of the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85. To do so, it will need to have collected two months of safety data on around half of the study’s roughly 44,000 participants, expected in late November.
“I’m near ecstatic,” Bill Gruber, one of Pfizer’s top vaccine scientists, said in an interview. “This is a great day for public health and for the potential to get us all out of the circumstances we’re now in.”
Normally, clinical trials like these are