Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi (AIIMS), Delhi on Wednesday said the results of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine phase III trials are very encouraging but preserving it at very low temperatures, -70 degree C, will be a challenge for India and other nations, especially in rural areas.
Speaking to ANI, Guleria said, “The challenge with the Pfizer vaccine is that it has to be kept at a very low temperature, -70 degree Centigrade. That for low and middle-income countries would be a big challenge to maintain the cold chain, because having a vaccine to be kept at low temperatures especially going to smaller towns, rural India is going to be a challenge. This vaccine has a lot of potential but we will need to see as other vaccines also come out. Very encouraging news in the vaccine research field for all vaccine candidates in phase-III trials.”
Guleria said although the claims made by Pfizer need to be reviewed by experts but the announcement was a very promising sign for the other vaccines being made. “The data, which Pfizer has released, although not reviewed by experts, is very encouraging. In the phase-III trials, more than 40,000 patients were vaccinated, some got the vaccine, some got placebo, and they followed them up to see how many of them got COVID-19. It showed high efficacy, almost 90 per cent. The data needs to be looked at more carefully. It’s encouraging not only for the Pfizer vaccine but also for other vaccines being made by different companies,” he said.
The AIIMS Director further elaborated, “It suggests that whatever vaccines we are making have a potential of giving good immunogenicity and good protection as far as COVID-19 is concerned.” Speaking about the challenges in the vaccine efficiency and duration, for which it will provide protection, Guleria said, “One we have to follow up to find out how long does it (immunity) lasts 3 months, 6 months, one year or more. The data also needs to be looked at how much protective value it gives as far as individuals are concerned.”
“Did it protect from mild infections, moderate and severe infections. Some vaccines will be able to give us total protection, others may protect such that one gets a mild infection, but not severe infection. Both have a utility, but if you have mild infection you are still infectious and you may still spread the infection. So an ideal situation will be a vaccine, which gives you total protection so that you don’t get the infection at all,” he added.
Earlier, 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. (ANI)