Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced this week that their vaccine trial is more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, based on early data. That’s far above the standard set by the Food and Drug Administration, which set the bar at 50% effectiveness for emergency use.
This is the first vaccine for the novel coronavirus to exceed the mark, raising hopes that a return to relative normality could be on the horizon. Experts, while optimistic about the development, urge caution as COVID-19 cases surge across the county, and widespread distribution of any vaccine is still months away.
Listen: Pfizer announces vaccine breakthrough.
Dr. Teena Chopra is a professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Wayne State University School of Medicine. She says the new development in the quest for a vaccine is very encouraging. “It’s a testament to how quickly research is moving,” says Dr. Chopra of Pfizer’s vaccine trial. Manufacturing a potential vaccine will be another hurdle, something Chopra says Pfizer is already tackling. “Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization… and claims they have started manufacturing millions of doses,” says Dr. Chopra.
After manufacturing comes the widespread distribution of a vaccine, another challenge for pharmaceutical companies. This particular vaccine needs to be refrigerated and stored at a very cold temperature, complicating the task. According to Dr. Chopra, distribution will rely on collaboration. “We don’t just need one kind of vaccine… that’s not enough to be distributed globally. We need tons, we will look at all the vaccines… there should be heavy emphasis on the data,” says Dr. Chopra.
Written by Detroit Today Associate Producer Clare Brennan.