A Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech has been found to be more than 90 per cent effective, in a major breakthrough that could make the shot available for use by the end of the year if drug authorities give it the green light.
The finding was the result of the first independent analysis of any Covid-19 vaccine in phase 3 trials — the final stage before commercial licensing. The study found that 94 participants who received the two-dose vaccine were protected against the disease 28 days after their first inoculation.
“To me, this is the best possible outcome,” Ugur Sahin, co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech told the Financial Times, while Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said it was “a great day for science and humanity”.
“The risk-benefit profile is in clear favour of benefit, it fulfils all the criteria to be processed fast,” Mr Sahin added. He said that the drug would be submitted to authorities for emergency approval within a matter of weeks.
The results far exceed the US Food and Drug Administration’s criteria for approving a Covid-19 vaccine, which mandates an efficacy of at least 50 per cent in placebo-controlled trials. No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, according to the World Health Organization.
Pfizer and BioNTech said that up to 50m doses of the vaccine — which would be the first vaccine to use novel mRNA technology — could be manufactured this year, and a further 1.3bn doses produced in 2021.
The US has secured orders for 100m doses of the shot, with an option to acquire another 500m, while the UK has an agreement to procure 30m doses. A deal for the supply of 200m doses to the EU is under negotiation.
Mr Sahin said BioNTech and Pfizer would “use a fair approach” when it came to distributing the first doses of the vaccine, adding that they would prioritise deliveries to countries where it had been approved for use.