Image courtesy of The Washington Post.

By: Jen Hasbun

Pfizer Inc. announced on Nov. 9 that its work-in-progress vaccine has an efficacy rate of 90 percent in regard to treating the COVID-19 virus, according to early test results which have not yet been peer-reviewed.

According to the company, an early data analysis demonstrated that individuals who received two injections within three weeks experienced 90 percent fewer cases of symptomatic COVID-19. Vaccines with an efficacy rate of about 50 percent are among those expected to be approved for the treatment of coronavirus.

Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development, Dr. William Gruber, told The Associated Press, “We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some help. We’re very encouraged.”

The vaccine is currently in the development stage; the project is a joint collaboration between Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, which develops and manufactures active immunotherapies in order to treat various diseases.

The Associated Press reported that the company seeks to apply for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once it has “the necessary safety information in hand,” though STAT News communicated that this will not occur until half of the patients involved in the study have been observed for safety issues for at least two months following their second dose. Pfizer has said it expects to reach the milestone during the third week of November.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the U.S. government’s top disease experts, commended the results, calling them “just extraordinary.” He added, “Not very many people expected [the efficacy rate] would be as high as that.”

Moderna, an American biotechnology company, also announced that it intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.

Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told reporters on Nov. 18 that the process of rolling out that vaccines will not take long if the EUA applications are accepted.

“If I had to make a guess, I think this all happens in the first few weeks of December,” Offit said.