US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said that Pfizer’s announcement that a Covid-19 vaccine it was developing was 90 per cent effective, offered cause for hope but warned that the battle ahead was still long.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by drug giant American Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech was more than 90 per cent effective at protecting people from infection as compared to placebo saline shot, according to an analysis.

The analysis was conducted by an independent data monitoring committee that met Sunday. “I would say it is a historical moment. Something like this has never happened before. First of all, the world was faced with such a terrible situation, the pandemic, and being able in such a short time to go through what usually takes many years,” Washington Post quoted Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, as saying. “Hearing that at the interim analysis we are over 90 percent effective — it was almost stunning to hear.”

The Pfizer has conducted 44,000-person trial. Among them, there have been so far 94 cases of COVID-19 in persons who were not previously infected. Fewer than nine of those cases were among people who received two shots of the vaccine, a strong signal of efficacy.

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The vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. Pfizer and BioNTech are working around-the-clock to scale up production, in hopes of having 50 million doses — enough for 25 million people to receive both shots — by the end of the year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The data is not yet published or peer-reviewed, and the company news release could not be presented to outside experts under the terms of an embargo. With more people being exposed to the virus amid the coronavirus surge, the trial is rushing toward completion faster than company executives anticipated.

The data community noted no serious safety concerns. Jansen said the side-effect profile of the vaccine was similar to what was reported in an earlier study, which included pain at the injection site and fatigue, chills and fever — that occurred more frequently in younger trial participants than in adults over age 65.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they plan to submit an application for emergency authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the third week of November, when they will have two months of safety follow-up data on half of the participants in their trial, along with data on their manufacturing process.

The trial will continue until it reaches its endpoint of 164 cases of COVID-19, which Jansen said could take a few weeks.

In a statement, Biden said: “Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant men and women who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.”

The President-elect also cautioned that even if vaccine approval was achieved, and some Americans were vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is a widespread vaccination in the country.

“That is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality. Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact,” said Biden.

He further added that America was still losing over 1,000 people every day from the virus, which will continue to get worse unless progress has been made on masking and other immediate actions.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by drug giant American Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech was more than 90 per cent effective at protecting people from infection as compared to placebo saline shot, according to an analysis, which was regarded as a ‘historical moment’ by Kathrin Jensen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.

The analysis on Pfizer’s vaccine progress was conducted by an independent data monitoring committee that met Sunday.

Pfizer has conducted a 44,000-person trial. Among them, there have been so far 94 cases of COVID-19 in persons who were not previously infected. Fewer than nine of those cases were among people who received two shots of the vaccine, a strong signal of efficacy.

The vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. Pfizer and BioNTech are working around-the-clock to scale up production, in hopes of having 50 million doses — enough for 25 million people to receive both shots — by the end of the year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The trial will continue until it reaches its endpoint of 164 cases of COVID-19, which Jansen said could take a few weeks. Meanwhile, the US on Monday surpassed 10 million cases of coronavirus, according to an update by the Johns Hopkins University.

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