Pfizer now says COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective and can be ready in days

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Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) said today that its COVID-19 vaccine developed with German group BioNtech worked even better than first reported and was 95% effective against the virus.


The US pharma giant sent financial markets soaring last week when it reported the vaccine was more than 90% effective in patients in a phase III trial, but said today the final analysis had indicated an even stronger performance.


Pfizer added that the results were consistent across all ages, demographics and ethnicities with no major side effects while efficacy in people over the age of 65 was 94%.


The US group added that as it now also had the required safety data it would apply for approval to administer the vaccine within days.


Hope that an effective way to prevent COVID-19 might be close has soared in the past week with Moderna releasing data on Monday showing its rival candidate had achieved 94.5% effectiveness against the virus in its trial.


AstraZeneca OLC’s (LON:AZN) chief financial officers Marc Dunoyer, meanwhile, told broker Jefferies yesterday that data from the trial of its highly anticipated vaccine being developed with Oxford University is imminent.


The Astra/Oxford collaboration is an adapted chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus.


Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNtech collaboration are using a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), and this has caused some commentators to express caution about how soon these vaccines might become widely available.


mRNA, which stimulates the body to produce proteins to kill the disease, has to be kept at low temperatures until required, making it difficult and expensive to store and distribute.


Pfizer’s vaccine, for instance, has to be kept at temperatures of minus 70c, though Moderna says its candidate can be stored at normal fridge temperature.


There had been 170 cases of the disease in its trial of more 43,000 volunteers, said Pfizer, of which 162 were observed in the placebo arm and 8 in the vaccine group.


One person who received the vaccine developed severe COVID-19.


“With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world,” Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said in a statement.


How the drug will be administered might, however, cause as many problems as developing the vaccine.


Pfizer said it expects to produce 50mln does this year and ramp that up to 1.3bn in 2021.


The UK government has ordered 40mln doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 5mln of the Moderna option, however GPs have already warned that the UK government’s vaccination roll-out plans are unreasonable and unrealistic.

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