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Monday Nov 09 2020
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Pfizer coronavirus vaccine over 90% effective, says manufacturer

The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore receives an injection. (File/AP)

Large-scale trials of a coronavirus vaccine candidate produced by Pfizer/BioNTech has revealed that it is 90% effective, said the manufacturer in a statement.

In what is being touted as possibly the biggest news regarding the virus ever since it originated, the vaccine's effectiveness can mean in can hit the markets for treatment by the year's end in some countries of the world.

The study shows that people who received two doses as part of the trial saw 90% fewer symptomatic cases of Covid-19 than participants who were given a placebo.

"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, the Pfizer chairman and chief executive.

The study focused on 94 participants out of a total number of 43,000 people. These participants were offered the two-dose vaccine and 28 days after they received their first inoculation, remained protected.

"To me, this is the best possible outcome,” Ugur Sahin, co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech told the Financial Times.

Pfizer expects to produce 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by 2021.

The company referred to the development as a "critical milestone in our vaccine development" adding that the welcome news came at a time when hospitals were being filled to their maximum capacity and economies were struggling to remain open.

Pfizer said that the vaccine's Phase 3 trial began this year on July 27 and has involved 43,538 participants in total out of which 38,955 have received a second dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of November 8, 2020. 

"Approximately 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. The trial is continuing to enroll and is expected to continue through the final analysis when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued," said Pfizer in its press release.

The manufacturer further added that the Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) had found no health risks attached with the vaccine and has given the green signal for further studies to be conducted.

It said that the study of the virus will also include whether it has potential to protection to those who were previously infected with the virus and those who were infected against "severe COVID-19 disease". 

The high percentage of those protected makes the findings compelling. In the past, vaccine regulators have said they would approve a candidate that proved itself 50% effective – protecting half of those who get it. The company says there have been no serious side-effects.

Global COVID-19 tally goes from 40m to 50m in just 21 days

The welcome news could not have come at a more crucial time as October proved to be the worst month for the COVID-19 pandemic with over 10 million new infections reported across the globe in just 21 days.

Global coronavirus infections exceeded 50 million on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, with a second wave of the virus in the past 30 days accounting for a quarter of the total.

Read more: Global coronavirus infections exceeded 50 million on Sunday

The United States become the first country to report more than 100,000 daily cases while a surge in Europe contributed to the rise in world cases.

The latest seven-day average shows global daily infections are rising by more than 540,000.

The pandemic’s recent acceleration has been ferocious. It took 32 days for the number of cases to rise from 30 million to 40 million. It took just 21 days to add another 10 million.

More than 1.25 million people have died from the respiratory disease that emerged in China late last year.

Europe, with about 12 million cases, is the worst-affected region, overtaking Latin America. Europe accounts for 24% of COVID-19 deaths.

The region is logging about 1 million new infections every three days or so, according to a Reuters analysis. That is 51% of the global total.

France is recording 54,440 cases a day on the latest seven-day average, a higher rate than India with a far bigger population.

Additional reporting by Reuters