Preliminary analysis of the first Covid-19 vaccine shows that it can prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting the virus.
American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German technology company BioNTech, the two developers, described the results as a “great day for science and humanity”.
Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, Albert Bourla, said in a statement: “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development programme at a time when the world needs it most with infection rate setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”
Professor Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder and CEO, said: “When we embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what we aspired to achieve.
“Especially today, while we are all in the midst of a second wave and many of us in lockdown, we appreciate even more how important this milestone is on our path towards ending this pandemic and for all of us to regain a sense of normality.”
So far, the vaccine has been tested on over 43,000 people across six countries, with no safety concerns or side effects being flagged.
It has been trialled in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
The developers say that people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds appear to also have been as well protected as everyone else.
To be submitted for approval
The companies still needs to gather the required safety data, which will take until the third week of November. It will then be submitted to regulators for approval.
The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.
A fast approval turnaround could mean that the first doses of the vaccine may be distributed to healthcare workers by the end of the year.
‘1.3 billion vaccine doses in 2021’
The US has secured orders for 100 million doses of the vaccine, with an option to acquire another 500 million.
The UK has an agreement to procure 30 million doses. A deal for the supply of 200 million doses to the EU is under negotiation.
Sahin said that BioNTech and Pfizer would “use a fair approach” when it came to distributing the vaccine, stating that they would prioritise deliveries to countries where it has been approved for use.
The companies began manufacturing the vaccine before it was proven to be effective in order to save time.
The two companies now expect to produce up to 50 million doses, or enough vaccines to protect 25 million people this year.
Pfizer said that it expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.
How is the vaccine distributed
The vaccine is given to people in two steps - two doses are given three weeks apart.
The companies say that people are protected a week after the second dose is issued.