The World Health Organization has welcomed an announcement by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech that an experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective based on initial trial results.
The results of the companies' late-stage clinical trial showed that just 10% of nearly 100 test subjects who tested positive for COVID-19 had received the vaccine rather than a placebo, according to what the firms said was an interim analysis of its third-stage trial.
So far the European Commission has also entered into negotiations with the companies CureVac and Moderna while it has signed contracts with three other pharmaceutical companies: AstraZeneca, for 300 million doses, Sanofi-GSK, for another 300 million doses, and with Johnson & Johnson, for 200 million doses. In a subgroup of 8,000 participants where side effects were observed, the only serious ones were fatigue and headache.The result puts the vaccine - which uses a genetic material known as mRNA to trigger an immune response - in pole position to win approval for emergency use from the US Food and Drug Administration.
"Today is a great day for science and humanity", Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said in a statement. The global collaboration Covax has responded by raising more than US$2 billion from richer nations to purchase vaccines for poorer countries.Pfizer said the candidate vaccine's efficacy was consistent across different ages, genders and ethnic groups.
"The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19", added BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
Pfizer and BioNTech have enrolled more than 43,000 volunteers in the third and final stage study, which began in late July.
Italy has reported over 960,000 cases of COVID-19 to date and 41,750 deaths.