Developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the vaccine remains under clinical study and is not currently approved for distribution anywhere in the world.
Scientists worldwide are testing whether drugs previously developed to treat other viral infections might also be effective against COVID-19. One drug that has received a lot of attention is the antiviral drug BNT162b2 (RNA) that has been developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech and is one of 11 vaccines that are currently in the final stages of testing.
Early data recently released by the companies showed that Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine could prevent more than 90 percent of people from getting COVID-19. The First Interim Analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine began on July 27 and enrolled 43,538 participants to date. From those, 38,955 received a second dose of the vaccine. An interim analysis conducted on Nov. 8 based on the evaluation of 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants, showed 90 percent efficacy in test trials. Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, said that the first set of results from our Phase 3 vaccine trial provides initial evidence of the vaccine's ability to prevent COVID-19. Based on its clinical success, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses worldwide before the year is out and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
But BNT162b2 remains under clinical study and is not currently approved for distribution anywhere in the world. One important question is how long immune protection from the vaccine will last. The limited data that Pfizer released only reveals how the vaccine performed seven days after the second of two doses. Additionally, the U.S. government has already placed an initial order for 100 million doses of the vaccine and has an option to acquire another 500 million if the vaccine proves successful in Phase III trials. Pfizer will aim to deliver those 100 million doses to the U.S. by March, according to Politico. Already having signed deals with U.K., Canada and Japan, the company has not determined when and how it would distribute doses to other countries.
WHO states that a vaccine should have been fully characterized and the final manufacturing process, specifications, and batch release testing procedures should be established. An application for market authorization may be submitted to a National Regulatory Authorities (NRA) on the basis of the data from Phase III testing. If approved, the vaccine then becomes commercially available in that particular country.
As of now, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. Other antiviral drugs are also being tested to see if they might be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.