While various companies have been working tirelessly on finding a vaccine against Covid-19, Pfizer and BioNTech’s results have proven to be a significant milestone, with the developers calling it a “great day for science and humanity”.
The vaccine was tested on 43,500 people in six countries and so far no safety concerns have been raised, giving hope it could bring an end to the pandemic that has affected millions (killing more than 1 million), destroyed economies and put the world into lockdown.
It usually takes years for a vaccine to be created, tested, approved and become widely available to the the public, however Pfizer (an American pharmaceutical corporation) and BioNTech (a German biotechnology company) have applied for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.
While it’s hopeful news, it’s also important to understand that the vaccine is still not yet approved and the precise effectiveness of the vaccine may change when the full results are analysed. As we only have interim data, details on whether the vaccine stops you from spreading the virus or just stops you from developing symptoms is unclear, as is how long the immunity will last.
Data suggests the vaccine is more effective when each person takes two doses, three weeks apart. The hope is for 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. According to BBC News, “Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators.”
A final decision is yet to be made on who will get the vaccine first, but it is most likely that frontline staff will be top of the list.