Nearly a year after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in China, have scientists made a vaccine for the illness? While many did not expect a successful inoculation until sometime next year, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has said it has a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine. Is the public health crisis finished? Can we stop wearing masks now and start returning to normal? It may still be a while before we return to pre-pandemic life.
Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine
Drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced on November 9 that they had created a coronavirus vaccine. They say it is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 for those who have not been previously infected.
The companies’ results were based on analysis by an external and independent Data Monitoring Committee from the phase-three clinical study. The research evaluated 94 confirmed coronavirus infections among the more than 43,000 participants – 42% had racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. The conclusion was that patients are protected from the coronavirus 28 days after the initial two-dose inoculation. And, so far, researchers have not identified any safety concerns.
This defied the goals of many scientists and the U.S. government. Many were hoping for an efficacy rate of 75%, and White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci had noted that even a 50% effective rate would be acceptable.
The companies hailed the development as “a great day for science and humanity.”
So, what now?
The companies are planning to manufacture about 50 million vaccine doses this year and as many as 1.3 billion doses in 2021. They will apply for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once that is completed, Pfizer will start the distribution process. Health experts say that this will be the most challenging part since storage and transportation will be difficult to achieve. Pfizer’s vaccine, for example, needs a storage temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, Pfizer is loading suitcase-sized boxes from distribution centers in the state of Michigan and the nation of Belgium onto two-dozen trucks per day. This would allow the company to transport approximately 7.6 million doses to nearby airports per day.
Operation Warp Speed
In July, President Donald Trump started Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s campaign to create and deliver 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. Pfizer was one of many drug makers to join the program, receiving up to $1.95 billion in funds. Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said in a press release that the corporation was “honored to be a part of this effort to provide Americans access to protection from this deadly virus.”
Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Over?
After more than 50 million global confirmed cases and one million deaths, is the coronavirus pandemic finally over? There are still many steps that need to be taken before the average American receives a vaccine. Until then – and maybe even afterward – politicians will continue to urge the public to wear masks, practice social distancing, and maintain basic hygienic practices.