PAGE – Two companies have advanced to the final stages of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company based in New York and Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, both made major announcements in the last week. Pfizer announced its vaccine had a 90% success rate. Moderna announced a 95% success rate for their vaccine. [Update: Pfizer reported Tuesday they’re latest tests resulted in a 95% success rate.]
According to a Nov. 9 Pfizer press release, “The case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at 7 days after the second dose. This means that protection is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a 2-dose schedule.”
Pfizer, which is self-financing the research, expects to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
Moderna officials said its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing the disease. Moderna was awarded a $15.5 billion contract in August from the federal Operation Warp Speed project to hasten development and production. The contract is for 100 million doses, enough for 40 million people. The government has to the option to purchase up to 400 million doses. Moderna expects to ship around 20 million doses in the U.S. by the end of Dec. 2020.
One major difference between the two vaccines is the temperature needed for storage. The Pfizer vaccine requires specialized freezers capable of cooling below minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The Moderna vaccine can be safely stored at in freezers at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thomas R. Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “A safe, effective, and widely available vaccine would be a game changer, but we’re likely many months away from this becoming a reality.
The announcement from Pfizer about its vaccine trial is very encouraging, but the vaccine’s safety and efficacy among groups such as the elderly are still unclear. Even with a vaccine that’s fully vetted and ready to go, it will take many months for enough people to receive it to provide population-wide protection. Until then, we need a one-two punch to knock the virus down and then keep it down.”
Frieden added, “Timing matters. The initial widespread closure in the spring poisoned the well. Many parts of the country shut down too soon and for too long.”
Dr. James Madara, CEO and executive vice president at the American Medical Association, interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Nov. 7. Fauci spoke of his concern for getting enough people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Regarding those reluctant to vaccinate, he said, “You shouldn’t criticize them for that because that’s going to get you nowhere.
“If you have somebody that’s an anti-vaxx approach, you don’t want to ridicule them. You want to try and explain to them what the reason is for getting vaccines and why the risk benefit ratio weighs so heavily toward benefits. “
Faucu said, “There’s going to be a hardcore group of people who are not going to want to get vaccinated no matter what you tell them, but there’s also a larger proportion and group of people, who because of misinformation, shy away from getting vaccinated.”
For doctors, he recommends, “The easiest way is in a non-pejorative instructive way, to try and educate them to what the facts are concerning the vaccine, go over the data with them and explain why it’s important for them and their families to get vaccinated.”