As the rapid global spread of COVID-19 escalates even more, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective in mild and severe cases and does not display harmful side effects. Pfizer reported a better efficacy rate of 95% compared to the 90% that was reported during the preliminary examination of the data. It was also reported that the efficacy is the same across age, race, and ethnicity.
The first complete set of data from the Phase 3 clinical trials – that included 44,000 participants – shows that only 170 of the total participants tested positive for COVID-19. 162 of the 170 people were from the placebo group, indicating that only 8 people in the experimental group tested positive despite receiving the vaccine. The company also reported that the vaccine helps to reduce the severity of the disease as 9 out of 10 people that experienced severe symptoms of COVID-19 were from the placebo group.
The vaccine is awaiting the approval of the Food and Drug Association (FDA), however, they are also planning to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to start administration of the vaccine as soon as possible. Pfizer said that it is ready to submit data that showed the manufacturing records and safety data to display the consistency and high quality of their manufacturing process. If the FDA approves the two-dose vaccine, Pfizer will have close to 50 million doses available before the year ends, and up to 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.
Although the fast development of the vaccine is remarkable, distribution and administration are slower processes. The vaccine needs to be stored at 94o F, which is colder than all the other COVID-19 vaccines that are being developed. Storage and transportation are even harder as special boxes that contain 1,000 to 5,000 vaccines will be equipped with dry ice and GPS sensors need to be used. If the dry ice is refilled and the box isn’t opened more than 2 times a day, the vaccine can be stored in a regular freezer for up to 5 days and the special cooler for 15 days.
Only 12.5 million vaccines will go to the US this year, which will be administered to a very small portion of the total population. The first people to receive the vaccination will be healthcare workers, as well as those who are at a higher risk, such as the elderly or those with other diseases. Because of the 1.95 billion dollar deal of the government with Pfizer, the vaccinations will be administered free of cost.
Sparking hope all around the world as the seemingly far off reality of social interaction sans masks might be sooner than it seems. This 8-month journey might have seemed like an eternity for most, however it broke all vaccine development records, as typically vaccine development takes years on end. Many are regaining hope looking towards this historic journey and its prevalence in restoring “normal” in the lives of everyone around the world.
By: Hephzibah Kaleem
Hephzibah Kaleem is a senior at West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a journalist and executive for Youth in Politics, she researches important local and international happenings and writes about them to educate those in her community as well as others around the world. Visit www.youthinpolitics.net