Study: New COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise

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A new COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech SE has demonstrated 90 percent efficacy against the virus, potentially paving the way for the rollout of 1.3 billion doses worldwide in the next year.

The companies, which have a $2 billion deal to supply 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the U.S., with an option for 500 million more, announced the finding Monday.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. 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,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO.

The news comes against a backdrop of rising cases in the U.S. and throughout the Northern Hemisphere as fall has brought generally cooler weather and the resulting seasonal increase in virus activity.

The COVID Tracking Project reported 110,270 new positive COVID-19 tests in the U.S. on Sunday, and today’s updated number from the Virginia Department of Health was 1,302, the same number of new positive tests as had been reported on Sunday.

The number of people in U.S. hospitals with COVID was at 56,768 on Sunday, according to COVID Tracking Project.

That total represents 5.9 percent of the country’s 961,092-bed healthcare capacity.

VDH is reporting 1,127 COVID patients in hospitals today, 6.8 percent of the state’s 16,476-bed capacity.

Virginia hospitals are currently operating at 77.4 percent of their rated capacity, up slightly from the 65 percent average capacity – but the total number hospitalized from all causes today, 12,746, is holding steady from where it has been since mid-May.

The U.S. healthcare system, for all its faults and limitations, has held up pretty well.

The situation in Western and Central Europe is again in flux – with Germany, France and the UK, among others, instituting control measures to try to prevent strain on their healthcare delivery systems.

That makes today’s vaccine news all the more significant.

“When we embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what we aspired to achieve,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder and CEO. “Especially today, while we are all in the midst of a second wave and many of us in lockdown, we appreciate even more how important this milestone is on our path towards ending this pandemic and for all of us to regain a sense of normality.

The mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, demonstrated evidence of efficacy against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Phase 3 clinical trial of BNT162b2 began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 38,955 of whom had received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of Nov. 8.

Pfizer and BioNTech are continuing to accumulate safety data and currently estimate that a median of two months of safety data following the second dose of the vaccine candidate – the amount of safety data specified by the FDA in its guidance for potential emergency use authorization – will be available next week.

The companies have posted an updated version of the study protocol at www.pfizer.com/science/coronavirus.

Story by Chris Graham


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