Pfizer captured the world’s attention Monday, Nov. 9, when the company announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech has proven to be “more than 90% effective.”
The potential vaccine, BNT162b2, is currently being evaluated in a massive Phase 3 trial that includes more than 43,000 participants. The study began on July 27, and more than 38,000 participants have already received their second dose of the potential vaccine.
These initial results could represent a key step forward in the race to finally end the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Albert Bourla, PhD, Pfizer chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19. 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. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”
The country reacts
U.S. stocks surged after the news was announced, and both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence shared public comments.
“STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON,” Trump posted on Twitter. “REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!”
President-Elect Joe Biden also shared his thoughts on the announcement.
“America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising—and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions,” Biden said. “That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today's announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.”
Monday’s news came at a time when the United States is experiencing more COVID cases than ever before. There have been more than 10 million cases and more than 238,000 deaths in the country so far, and numerous states are close to enforcing a new set of restrictions to try and keep the numbers from continuing to escalate.
U.S. hospitals continue to be overwhelmed as well, creating a situation where patients seeking care for issues other than COVID-19 may not receive optimal care.
“This is a disaster,” Juan M. Taveras, MD, a cardiologist at Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center, said in one recent interview. “People are going to start dying. As a matter a fact, they started dying already. But not because they have COVID, but because COVID has impaired the ability to deliver care.”
In a report from Nature.com, Eric Topol, MD, a cardiologist in La Jolla, California, shared his hopeful outlook on Pfizer’s development.
“I think this is an extraordinary achievement, even without many details, because there was no assurance of vaccine efficacy before we got the first readout from a trial,” he said, echoing the sentiment shared by many other physicians and industry leaders throughout the day.