Pfizer on Wednesday said its COVID-19 vaccine, jointly developed with BioNTech, is 95% effective according to a final analysis of clinical trial data.
The shot protects all ages and ethnicities. So far, there have been no significant safety issues. Pfizer will apply for emergency use authorization in the US within days. The headline readout is better than the 90% efficacy Pfizer reported last week, in an initial assessment of the data. It comes just two days after Moderna said its vaccine is nearly 95% effective. Moderna also plans to file for emergency use authorization from the FDA in the weeks ahead. Data from AstraZeneca is due soon.
Questions will now turn to the durability of the protection and, of course, to the logistical challenges of getting a skeptical public vaccinated — no small feat, to be sure.
All told, 170 trial participants in Pfizer’s study contracted the virus. Only eight who received the vaccine got sick. Nine of the 10 severe cases were in the placebo group. Efficacy in the elderly (those older than 65) was 94%. Fatigue was the only severe side effect to occur in more than 2% of people.
As a reminder, Pfizer says it can produce as many as 50 million doses by the end of this year, while Moderna can produce around 20 million over the same window. Next year, Pfizer expects to make 1.3 billion doses and Moderna between 500 million and 1 billion.
“Beyond production, the distributional hurdle is vaccine-specific, since some candidates require ultra-cold storage and some do not, and given that at least the DM Economies have signed purchases agreements with multiple drugmakers, their vaccine is diversified and fairly secure,” JPMorgan wrote.
“The questions are more around countries who aren’t producers, or who are relying on only one candidate drug,” the bank went on to say, in a recent note, adding that “just as there has been significant dispersion in growth and market performance over the past several months related to governments’ ability to manage second waves, there could be decent dispersion in 2021 based on success with vaccine rollout.”
For markets, this means another day of weighing the long-term outlook in a world where multiple, effective vaccines are available against the near-term drag from new lockdowns across the western world’s largest economies, including and especially the US, where infections and hospitalizations have surged.
German cases hit a one-week high over the past 24 hours after receding a bit, cases in Austria are falling, but the death toll rose above 100 for the first time, Poland reported a new all-time high in fatalities, and Bulgaria had a record number of new infections.
But it’s not just the US and Europe. Tokyo logged a record number of new infections Wednesday, as did Iran, where nearly 1,000 people have died in the past 48 hours. In India, total cases are on the brink of crossing the 9 million mark. New cases in South Korea hit a 12-week high.
Oh, and you’ll be able to self-diagnose soon in the US. The FDA has approved a rapid-result, all-In-one test kit which provides results from the “comfort” of your own home quarantine in 30 minutes or less.
It makes a great stocking stuffer!