Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 that their COVID-19 vaccine trial data shows upwards of 90% effectiveness against the virus. The American multinational pharmaceutical corporation partnered with BioNTech in March to try to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
The trial consisted of around 43,000 volunteered patients, with 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coming from the trial. According to CNN, the trial found that less than 10 percent of confirmed cases came from patients who had received the two doses of the vaccine and that 90 percent of the cases came from patients who had received the placebo.
“It’s important to note that we cannot apply for FDA Emergency Use Authorization based on these efficacy results alone,” Pfizer said in their announcement on Monday. “More data on safety is also needed, and we are continuing to accumulate that safety data as part of our ongoing clinical study.”
Pfizer estimates that “a median of two months” of data following the FDA’s guidance for potential Emergency Use Authorization will be available by the third week of November. The corporation said they are also generating data to ensure the vaccine “can be consistently manufactured to meet quality standards.”
Parissa Irom is a human development and aging major on the health track at USC who said her Demography and Health course discussed the great risk that frontline care workers are putting themselves in to help people and that they deserve respect by following safety measures.
“Knowing how much progress they’ve already made with this vaccine, I’m really hopeful that things can turn up to the brighter side in regards to the next coming up years because I genuinely was worried that my college experience would be ruined by COVID-19, but I have high hopes for Pfizer,” Irom said.
“It’s very promising, but there are lots of other factors to consider in terms of whether to actually release it for mass production, and among them is, well, how was the efficacy of over different categories of people,” Howard Hu, the Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC, said.
These results are still preliminary, said Frances Richmond, Director of the D.K. Kim International Center for Regulatory Science at the USC Pharmacy School.
“This data is the earliest data that they can feel assured gives a reasonable measure of outcome,” Kim said. “But over time, they will get more numbers and a tighter picture of who is being helped and to what degree.”
On Nov. 8, the United States reached the milestone of 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and there have been over 239,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States as of Nov. 10, according to research from John Hopkins University.
“It’s alarming to consider the number of people who have already signaled either their unwillingness or their hesitation to taking the vaccine, which, unfortunately, a lot of it has been generated by misinformation, disinformation, and hysteria,” Hu said. “So that’s a big variable that will ultimately determine whether enough of the population is vaccinated so we can obtain herd immunity.”
“Unfortunately, the covid vaccines, because the kind of under the spotlight, people are going, oh, my God, you know...eight out of fifty thousand, had an allergic reaction to the vaccines garbage,” said Paula Cannon, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Keck USC. “I actually take great comfort from the fact that there is so much transparency that even if one person has a potential adverse reaction to the vaccine, it’s being disclosed on the trial is put on hold. I think that actually speaks to the robustness of the system.”
The vaccine results may provide a sense of hope, but not an immediate change.
“Maybe instead of taking our cause and going to Dodgers Stadium to get our covid test, maybe we get in our cars and go to Dodger Stadium to get our covid shot,” Dr. Cannon said. “You know, I’m very optimistic about it, but we won’t go straight back to normal once we start vaccinating people. But ... we’re getting this light at the end of the tunnel.”