New Vaccine Development


For several months, three companies have been working to create a safe and effective vaccine to combat the now pervasive coronavirus. This virus has affected millions of people across the globe, and a vaccine could significantly improve public health, which could lead to a return normalcy. On November 9, Pfizer announced that their vaccine trials have been going well, and the vaccine may be ready for mass distribution. In the past few weeks, the number of coronavirus cases has increased, which only adds the demand for a successful vaccine.
According to an analysis done by an independent data monitoring committee, the vaccine is more than ninety percent effective at protecting people from COVID-19. The results of the analysis foreshadow how the vaccine could affect daily life; it is a clear indication that the quest to develop a safe and effective vaccine to help stop the spread of coronavirus could be over. Pfizer’s trial was composed of 44,000 people, in which there have only been ninety-four cases of COVID-19. The people that had received the vaccine twice had even less of a chance of contracting the virus, as fewer than nine of the individuals who contracted the virus received two vaccines. In the trial, to be considered “a case” of the virus, one had to test positive and suffer at least one symptom.
“I would say it’s a historical moment. Something like this has never happened before. First of all, the world was faced with such a terrible situation, the pandemic, and being able in such a short time to go through what usually takes many years,” said Kathrin Jansen, the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.
While there has been a rush to develop a vaccine, safety has been a major concern for both the public and the drug companies. The data committee reported no significant safety concerns with this vaccine. The side effects of the vaccine include pain at the site of injection and fatigue, which occurred more often in younger trial participants than in adults older than sixty-five.
“The results are really quite good, I mean extraordinary,” said Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Pfizer and BioNTech claimed that they are planning send in application for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration after the third week in November, as by then, they will have two months of safety follow-up data on half of the participants in their trial, in addition to data on their manufacturing process, which will make the public more secure. The first available doses of the vaccine could be ready for the public by December. This vaccine requires two separate doses that need to be administered three weeks apart. Pfizer and BioNTech are striving to increase production with the intention of having fifty million doses ready by the end of 2020 and one point three billion doses prepared in 2021.
At first, the only people who will be able to get the vaccine will be selective groups most likely composed of health-care workers and people considered high risk. If and when the vaccine is authorized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make recommendations for who should receive it first.
A vaccine has never been produced as quickly as this vaccine has been, so if proven effective, it will be a breakthrough in vaccine development. The fact that Pfizer has been able to develop a vaccine in this short amount of time provides hope that an end to the pandemic is in the foreseeable future.
Mrs. Wendy Harrigan, a chemistry teacher at Pine Crest School, stated “While no vaccine will be 100% effective, this is pretty good data. It will absolutely be beneficial for people to receive it, but clinical trials still need to evaluate longer term safety of the vaccine. As for whether the trial is enough to prove its efficacy, clinical trials are still ongoing. There will still be much more data to analyze, but the first reports look very promising!”