Pfizer announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine developed with its partner, BioNTech, has proved to be more than 90% effective and that it plans to ask regulators for permission to sell the shot before the end of this month if pending data shows it is safe.
“Hopefully now we can move on and get this vaccine out there and make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do and stop” the virus, said Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, reports The Wall Street Journal.
According to Pfizer, the vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective in the first 94 subjects who had both been infected by coronavirus and had developed at least one of the disease’s symptoms, according to the companies. The companies say no serious safety issues have come up in its study, which includes almost 44,000 subjects in the United States and in other countries.
However, health regulators say it will take some time to review the vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration requires that safety assessments include at least two months of monitoring for half of the study’s subjects.
Pfizer said it remains on track to collect at least two months of data in the third week of November, meaning it could file for an emergency authorization soon after that.
It is also not clear, though, how long the vaccine will protect against COVID infections, since the study has only been going on for a short time.
“You never know what the outcome is, but we had a feeling that we did everything we could possibly do,” Jansen said.
The vaccine review was conducted by independent experts which then shared its findings with Pfizer and BioNTech.
Moderna Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca PLC also have vaccines in the late stages of their studies.
The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine uses a new technology, known as mRNA, which is short for the messenger RNA, that carries genetic instructions to a body’s cells. In the vaccines, the mRNA prompts cells to make a synthetic version of the spike protein contained in the surface of the new coronavirus, which in turn triggers the immune system against COVID.
The FDA says it won’t authorize a vaccine until it is at least 50% effective, meaning the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine worked better than the companies and government expected.
The two-dose vaccine’s 90% effective rate was found at seven days after the second dose, meaning subjects remained protected for four weeks after the first shot.
Meanwhile, stock futures surged Monday after Pfizer and BioNTech made their announcement, reports CNBC.
On the Dow Jones Industrial Average, futures surged 1,201 points, or 4.3%, which implied an opening gain of more than 1,200 points. S&P 500 futures jumped by 3.6% and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 2%.
Stocks were already set to continue their big post-election rally Monday after Joe Biden was projected by most news outlets as having defeated President Donald Trump, according to NBC projections. Dow futures had already been up by about 400 points before the news about the vaccine broke.