COVID-19 vaccine 90% effective in early analysis, claims Pfizer; 'life could return to normal by Spring', says UK govt adviser

Sir John Bell, a professor at Oxford University and also a member of the UK government's vaccine task force, answered in the affirmative when asked whether life will return to normal by spring

FP Staff November 10, 2020 00:36:54 IST
COVID-19 vaccine 90% effective in early analysis, claims Pfizer; 'life could return to normal by Spring', says UK govt adviser

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As India's coronavirus case load on Monday increased to 85,53,657 with 45,903 new infections, Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said interim analysis showed their vaccine candidate to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 .

The interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the US and five other countries, reported news agency AP.

However, Pfizer has cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time its study ends.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Sir John Bell, a professor at Oxford University and also a member of the UK government's vaccine task force, answered in the affirmative when asked whether life will return to normal by spring.

When asked whether life would return to normal by spring, Bell said: "Yes, yes, yes. I'm the first guy to say it but I will say it with some confidence."

Bell was speaking at BBC Radio 4's The World at One, after Pfizer and BioNTech SE made public their interim findings.

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine 90% effective

"Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine's ability to prevent COVID-19 ," said Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla.

"We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen," he added.

"... we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks,"Bourla said.

After discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the companies recently elected to drop the 32-case interim analysis and conduct the first interim analysis at a minimum of 62 cases, the statement said.

However, the announcement does not mean a vaccine is imminent. This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the US and five other countries, AP reported.

However, Pfizer Inc has not provide any more details about those cases recorded in its study, and has cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends.

The shots made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are among 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world -- four of them so far in huge studies in the US.

Another US company, Moderna Inc, also has said it hopes to be able to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration later this month.

BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin said: "The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19 . This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort."

The Phase 3 clinical trial of BNT162b2 began on 27 July and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 38,955 of whom have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of 8 November, 2020, the statement said.

The trial is continuing to enroll and is expected to continue through the final analysis when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued.

The study also will evaluate the potential for the vaccine candidate to provide protection against COVID-19 in those who have had prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as well as vaccine prevention against severe COVID-19 disease, it added.

"Pfizer and BioNTech are continuing to accumulate safety data and currently estimate that a median of two months of safety data following the second (and final) dose of the vaccine candidate - the amount of safety data specified by the FDA in its guidance for potential Emergency Use Authorization - will be available by the third week of November," the statement said.

Based on current projections, the companies expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021, it added.

The companies also plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-review publication, the statement said.

India records 45,903 new cases

Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 caseload on Monday rose to 85,53,657 with 45,903 more testing positive for the novel coronavirus infection in 24 hours, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 79,17,373, pushing the national recovery rate to 92.56 percent, said the Union health ministry in its morning update.

India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August,30 lakh on 23 August and 40 lakh on 5 September. It went past 50 lakh on 16 September, 60 lakh on 28 September, 70 lakh on 11 October and crossed 80 lakh on 29 October.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 remained below six lakh for the 11th consecutive day. There are 5,09,673 active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country as of date which comprises 5.96 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.

India's cumulative COVID-19 positivity rate has also declined  to 7.19 percent as on date, the ministry said.

Seventy-nine percent of the new COVID-19 cases are from 10 states and UTs, with Delhi overtaking Maharashtra and Kerala by reporting 7,745 infections in a span of 24 hours to become the largest contributor to the single-day infections, the ministry said in a statement.  Delhi had earlier overtaken Maharashtra and Kerala on 7 November also.

The ministry further stated that79 percent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and UTs. Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries with 8,232 newly recovered cases. 6,853 people recovered in Kerala followed by 6,069 in Maharashtra.

The countrywide COVID-19 toll from the disease climbed to 1,26,611 with 490 new fatalities being registered since Sunday, the data updated at 8 am showed. The case fatality rate stands at 1.48 percent.

The 490 new fatalities include 125 from Maharashtra, 77 from Delhi,59 from West Bengal, 26 from Uttar Pradesh, 24 from Kerala,22 from Karnataka and 20 from Tamil Nadu.

A total of 1,26,611 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 45,240 from Maharashtra, followed by 11,391 from Karnataka,11,344 from Tamil Nadu, 7,294 from West Bengal,7,206from Uttar Pradesh, 6,989from Delhi, 6,791 from Andhra Pradesh, 4,318 from Punjab and 3,760from Gujarat.

The Union health ministry stressed that more than 70 percent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 11,85,72,192 samples have been tested up to 8 November, with 8,35,401 tests being conducted on Sunday.

In Delhi, which has recently seen a spurt in cases, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the government is conducting aggressive testing to detect COVID-19 cases and 25-30 percent of the daily infections are diagnosed through targeted testing in crowded places like railway stations and bus terminals.

In such crowded places, one person can infect around 50 others, he said.

With inputs from agencies

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