New COVID-19 Vaccine Offers Over 90 Percent Protection Against Infection

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Pfizer and BioNTech announced the joint development of a COVID-19 vaccine that offers over 90 percent effectiveness in preventing coronavirus infection, they are seeking emergency approval to release the vaccine.

First COVID-19 vaccine to show over 90 percent effectiveness in preventing infection

Pfizer and BioNTech announced a “great day for science and humanity” as they unveiled a new COVID-19 vaccine the two firms developed jointly that they say is over 90 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infection, the BBC reported.

Pfizer says the vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries, without any safety concerns being raised.

The companies announced that they plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine, which they could be rolling out by the end of the month. To obtain approval, Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have gathered enough safety data by the third week of November to be able to take their vaccine to regulators.

How the vaccine works

The new vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech takes a completely experimental approach. The method involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code into the subject. The purpose is to train the immune system. This genetic code tells cells what they need to build. They coated the RNA vaccine in a lipid so that it can enter the body’s cells.

When the vaccine is injected into the patient, it enters the cells and instructs them to actually produce the coronavirus spike protein. Consequently, this results in prompting the immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells to destroy these infected cells.

Thereafter, if the vaccinated person encounters coronavirus, that person’s antibodies and T-cells have been triggered to fight and destroy coronavirus-infected cells.

2 doses are needed

The new coronavirus vaccine requires two doses, taken three weeks apart.

The trials that were undertaken in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and Turkey demonstrated that 90 percent protection is achieved seven days after the second dose.

How long will the vaccine remain effective?

In the test trials, the vaccine provided protection seven days after patients had received the second dose, and 28 days after receiving the initial dose, CNN reported.

Still, further questions about how long immunity lasts and effectiveness within different age groups have yet to be answered, the BBC reports.

Distribution challenges

There are logistical challenges in distributing the vaccine. It requires ultra-cold storage, needing to be kept at below -80 Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit).