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Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective in trial stage

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective in trial stage
/ Images By Tang Ming Tung / Royalty-free / Getty Images

A COVID-19 vaccine that is being developed by American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, is showing promising results.

Pfizer Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study.

This news puts the company on track to apply for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration which could be a major victory in the fight against COVID-19.

If all goes well, the world could have a vital new method to help control a pandemic that has so far killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide.

The positive preliminary data means the US company and its German partner, BioNTech, are on track to be the first to release a vaccine. In a press release on Monday morning, Pfizer says they estimate the ability to produce 1.3 billion doses — enough to vaccinate 650 million people — by the end of 2021.

“This is about the best the news could possibly be for the world and for the United States and for public health,” said William Gruber, Pfizer senior vice president for vaccine clinical research and development. It was better than even the best result he had hoped for, he said.

Monday's announcement offers hope but there is still a lot of work to be done. Pfizer Inc. says the study enrolled 43,538 volunteers, 42% of whom had diverse health backgrounds from six countries. This interim analysis, however, looked at only 94 infections recorded so far. Pfizer will continue its study until they record 164 infections among all the volunteers, a number that the FDA has agreed is enough to determine how well the vaccine is working.

Canada can see “the light at the end of the tunnel”, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Monday morning as he urged Canadians to continue to obey public health guidelines in order to keep the pandemic under control until then.

“To be very clear, if you catch COVID in the coming days and weeks, a vaccine won’t help you or your family,” he said. We are hopeful we are getting there, but we need to do our part; we need to stay strong and hang in there a few more months.”

Canada already has an agreement in place with Pfizer, to buy 20 million doses of the vaccine candidate.

For more on this story, we recommend checking out the interview with the husband-and-wife team who are the brains behind the vaccine, published in The National Post.

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