Hopes arise that the vaccine has been made to rescue us from the pandemic, following the announcement that an interim analysis has shown Pfizer/BioNtech’s candidate was 90% effective in shielding people from contracting the virus in global trials.
The vaccine displayed far better results than most professionals had hoped for, according to the company’s analysis.
Along with the vaccine comes the hope of a potential end of a pandemic that pushed millions of people to their death beds, shattered economies and destroyed daily lives across the globe.
The unexpected pleasant results from late-stage vaccine trials bolstered stock markets and also the spirits as the people finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s worth mentioning that the news is still preparatory, and there’s still a lot to be known about how the vaccine performs its side effects and effectiveness against the virus.
Above all, it’s certain that the vaccine will take several months (maybe a year) till it arrives and rescue us from the surging pandemic. So, you still need to take precautionary measures in order to keep yourself and your loved one protected from the deadly virus.
Here’s what we have uncovered so far about the vaccine:
What have scientists discovered in the vaccine?
In July, BioNtech and Pfizer initiated a late-stage clinical trial on a vaccine against coronavirus. About 44,000 people participated in the vaccine trials out of which one-half of the candidates got the vaccine. Also, the other half was provided with a placebo of salt water. Then the scientists waited for the people to get sick to see whether this vaccine displayed any immunity from the virus.
Later, out of 44,000, only 94 participants have contracted coronavirus. And the independent board of professionals observed the patients as if who got the vaccine and how many got the placebo. In the early analysis, it has been found that the vaccine is over 90% perfectly effective.
Following the clinical trials' standard, the figures were “blinded,” indicating that no one except the independent board could know how many of the 94 participants who got sickened by the virus had a vaccine.
Considering the 90% effectiveness rate, it’s fair to say that only a few people got covid-19 after receiving vaccination.
Are results assumed to be good?
Yes! According to the Food and Drug Administration, vaccines should have at least 50% efficacy for emergency authorization. If the preparatory results from BioNtech and Pfizer display the accurate results in the real world, then it’s far safer than any other vaccines.
For better understanding, let’s take an example of the usual vaccines we have right now. An average influenza vaccine is 40 to 60 percent useful at best because the virus keeps on evolving every year and then. On the other hand, measles' two doses vaccine has 97 percent efficacy rate- close to what has been found in the latest COVID-19 vaccine.
Does this vaccine have any side effects?
So far, Pfizer and BioNtech haven’t reported any serious side effects of the vaccine. Prior to the ongoing large-scale experiments, the companies underwent short clinical trials in May that were aimed to determine vaccine safety's warning signs and side effects. They experimented with four versions of their vaccine and selected the one that displayed the least cases of moderate and mild side effects, including fever and fatigue.
If the FDA provides an emergency authorization to the vaccine, and if it gets distributed among millions of people, the Centers for Disease Control and the F.D.A will observe them to ensure there’s no signs of even slightest of safety concerts.
Participants who have been vaccinated in the trial sessions will also be evaluated for two years.
Why have the trials not been concluded yet?
The trials will proceed till the scientist gets 164 cases of COVID-19. At that stage, the research will be concluded and the results will be analyzed.
Even though the primary results have shown somewhat promising results, it’s still unclear just how effective it is against the virus. Clinical trials haven’t yet been designed to figure that out. Scientists may make a mere ‘guess’ or an estimate based on statistics, but it doesn't particularly reflect the accuracy rate of its effectiveness.
This can only be determined once millions of people are vaccinated with it. But the experts argue that primarily results are enough to assume that efficacy is much higher than expected.
Does it provide any immunity to older people?
It’s not clearly known yet! Pfizer and BioNtech clinical trial involves people over age 65, so it eventually gives crucial information about its effective rate in the older population.
Early clinical study indicates that older people have a weaker immune system to respond to coronavirus vaccines. However, the preliminary evidence suggests that they could have strong protection against the virus if they get vaccinated.
And what about kids?
It’s yet to be determined! The trial conducted by Pfizer and BioNtech firstly included people aged 18 or older, but in September trials they started inducting teenagers as young as 16. Just about last month, they carried out trials on even younger children aged 12.
With the vaccine announcement, should we stop wearing masks now during a global pandemic?
As per the Drug Administration, absolutely not! The second wave of coronavirus is raging across the globe, and public health personnel have clearly advised us to be well-prepared for a very challenging winter in terms of virus situation.
Even if this vaccine gets a necessary emergency authorization, it will only be accessible to the silver public of the United States. Many professionals believe that it will take several months or maybe a year to reach the general public. Even then, there's still not any evidence that the vaccine will prevent the asymptomatic spread of the virus or the effectiveness to prevent people from developing critical covid-19 symptoms.
So for now, masks are your only defense against the virus! Even when you get vaccinated, experts believe that you’ll still need additional measures like masks until this health threat has diminished.
You owe it to others, so be a responsible citizen and don’t forget to wear your masks!