German company BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer announced on Monday that early results from ongoing phase 3 trials showed that their vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections.
The statement from the two companies is the first release of successful data from a large-scale trial of coronavirus vaccines. According to their reports, they found no serious safety concern connected with the vaccine. Researchers believe the immunising effects will not be short-lived.
If substantiated, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine would be a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin told Reuters that: “We should be more optimistic that the immunisation effect can last for at least a year.”
“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,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Analysis of the experimental vaccine trials appeared to effectively prevent infection in participants “without prior evidence of SARS-Cov-2 infection,” the joint statement said.
Over 43,500 people took part in the trial which has been ongoing since late July. The two companies said they would apply for authorization with the US Food and Drug Administration in the coming week.
Pfizer and BioNTech already have a $1.95 billion contract to deliver 100 million vaccine doses to the USA. They also have agreements with the EU, UK, Canada and Japan. Production of the vaccine has already begun in order to save time. They expect to produce up to 50 million doses in 2020, enough to vaccinate 25 million people.
Pfizer expected that it could produce up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. 90% effectiveness is well above the 50% effectiveness that the US Food and Drug Administration requires in order to authorize a coronavirus vaccine.