Pfizer announced this morning that the final analysis of their RNA based Coronavirus vaccine showed it was 95% effective in reducing illness. This was essentially identical to the results announced by Moderna on Monday, which suggests that both vaccines are highly effective in preventing illness.
The final efficacy data included 170 Covid-19 cases in the 44,000-person trial; 162 cases of COVID-19 were in the placebo group while only 8 were in the vaccine group. This means the vaccine reduced the number of infections by 95%. Pfizer’s first safety results were also impressive; the most severe side effects were fatigue, which occurred in only 3.8% of recipients, and headache, which occurred in 2% of recipients. This is a remarkable safety profile, better than approved vaccines like the one for shingles.
Elderly individuals were included in this analysis, and the vaccine reportedly showed similar efficacy in that group.
Pfizer also reported 9 cases of severe disease in the placebo group, but only 1 in the vaccine group. This indicated the vaccine can help prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Moderna’s analysis had shown 11 severe cases in placebo group and none in the vaccine group. So, both vaccines should prevent against severe illness from COVID-19 and tremendously ease its burden on the health care system.
Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla also insisted that storage and delivery will not be an issue for the vaccine despite the low temperature requirement.
Pfizer will apply to the FDA for approval immediately and could be reviewed by the agency at either the December 7th or 14th advisory committee meetings.
One negative note — several media outlets seem to be continually minimizing the significance of the vaccines. The NYT in particular has paid little attention to the remarkable clinical trial data , instead having a series of articles that have focused entirely on potential manufacturing shortages and problems with distribution. While there may be issues here, it should not be the primary (only!) focus. In one these articles they also went on a rant about President Trump’s suggestion that the vaccines were only “weeks away.” This suggests their concerns aren’t entirely about the vaccine technology.
To me, this is not the time to have political squabbles over these vaccines. As Tony Fauci has said, “this is better news than any of us could have hoped!” These vaccines are the best holiday gifts anyone could receive, and everyone should plan to get vaccinated as soon as they have availability!