Pfizer along with their partner BioNTech SE just announced the results of their most promising COVID-19 vaccine termed the “BNT162b2”. The vaccine was successfully tested on candidates that were not previously infected with COVID-19 and it showed promising results of 90% efficacy in phase 3 of the study performed by the company.
So is the COVID-19 vaccine the magical cure that will rid the world of the virus? In short, yes it is a very good candidate but that all depends on the factors described below.
The first thing for a vaccine to be effective globally and overtime is how long the vaccine needs to be administered before it takes effect and how long it will last. For Pfizer’s vaccine, they say the vaccine needs at least 28 days before it will give the stated 90% protection against the virus. The 28 day period consists of 2 doses of the vaccine with the second one being at least 7 days before exposure to the virus.
The second thing is how it is delivered to the human body. Pfizer’s BNT162b2 is a messenger-RNA (mRNA) based vaccine. According to experts, mRNA is the next generation of vaccines as they show better immunity against diseases, improve delivery, and increase adaptive immunogenicity. This makes their vaccine highly effective as experts were hoping for a vaccine that could give 60-70% efficacy and this beats that mark well.
The last thing is how it is supplied globally. The BNT162b2 vaccine needs to be stored and shipped at ultracold temperatures i.e. -70 degree Celsius. This will pose a lot of distribution challenges especially for third-world countries where it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the standards needed to ship and store the vaccine.
One more thing is the price. Since this is just a trial drug and has not been approved by the FDA yet, it does not have a price tag. If it costs thousands of dollars for a single dose, we may as well forget it in countries like Pakistan. Still, the US has already pre-purchased 100 million doses of it so the price may not be too high.
William Gruber, Pfizer’s Senior Vice President of vaccine clinical research and development, says, “I’ve been in vaccine development for 35 years. I’ve seen some really good things. This is extraordinary. This really bodes well for us being able to get a handle on the epidemic and get us out of this situation”
All in all, the vaccine may actually be a miracle drug for the world but it mainly depends on how long it is effective and how countries manage to store and ship it.
Image Source: Medical Xpress