On 9 November, Pfizer became the first company in the world to complete Phase 3 of its coronavirus vaccine trials, which showed 90% efficacy. The news was followed earlier this week by an announcement from US pharmaceutical firm Moderna that its own vaccine candidate had a similarly promising efficacy of 94.5%. So far the UK government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab – enough for 20 million people – and five million – for use on 2.5 million patients – of the Moderna one. The US and German companies say they will be able to produce 50 million doses this year and 1.3 billion in 2021.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has now proved 95% effective in preventing coronavirus and has met the safety criteria needed for emergency authorisation, the firms have said. Pfizer and BioNTech say they plan to submit the COVID-19 vaccine to the US regulator for emergency use approval “within days” after “no serious safety concerns” were reported.
The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is also poised to fast-track authorisation of the vaccine after the government ordered enough for 20 million people.
Final efficacy analysis of the jab showed 95% were protected from the virus within 28 days of the first dose – up from when results of Phase 3 trials were shared last week. It also proved 94% effective among adults over the age of 65 – who are generally more vulnerable. There were no serious side effects, with only 2% of the 43,000 participants reporting a headache and 3.7% reporting fatigue, the companies said.