A Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech has been found to be more than 90 per cent effective, in a breakthrough that could make the shot available for use by the end of the year if drug authorities give it the green light.
The finding was the result of the first independent analysis of any Covid-19 vaccine in phase 3 trials — the final stage before commercial licensing.
Out of the 43,000 trial participants, the small number who were infected enabled the independent evaluators to calculate the effectiveness after two doses. “To me, this is the best possible outcome,” Ugur Sahin, co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech told the Financial Times, while Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said it was “a great day for science and humanity”.
The drug is expected to be submitted to authorities for emergency approval in the third week of November, ahead of other vaccine developers.
Former vaccine frontrunner Moderna does not expect to have the trial data required to go for approval until November 25, while AstraZeneca’s partnership with the University of Oxford expects results by the end of this year.
The Pfizer results far exceed the US Food and Drug Administration’s criteria for approving a Covid-19 vaccine, which mandates an efficacy of at least 50 per cent in placebo-controlled trials. No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, according to the World Health Organization.
Pfizer and BioNTech said that up to 50m doses of the vaccine — which would be the first vaccine to use novel mRNA technology — could be manufactured this year, and a further 1.3bn doses produced in 2021.