In one of the major race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine that can prevent more than 90% of people from getting virus.
According to a preliminary analysis by Pfizer and BioNTech, their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 persons in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.
The developers described the development as a “great day for science and humanity” as they plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85 by the end of the month.
Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, Albert Bourla said “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development programme at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”
According to data by Johns Hopkins University, more than 50.5 million persons have been infected with the virus globally with 1.2 million fatalities recorded so far.
For Pfizer to seek US authorization for emergency use of its vaccine, it will need two months of safety data from about half the study’s 44,000 participants, which is expected late this month.
Pfizer and BioNTech have a $1.95bn contract with the US government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses beginning this year. They have also reached supply agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.
Also, the United Kingdom is expected to get 10 million doses by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.
In moving the vaccines around, there are logistical challenges, as the vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C.
Madagascar Takes Last Stand On COVID-19 Vaccine, Refuses Immunization
Madagascar has affirmed its decision not to participate in the global coronavirus vaccine initiative- COVAX for the access to COVID-19 vaccine once they have been approved and licensed.
The government spokesperson confirmed the island will instead resort to its traditional herbal mixture that its own scientists discovered earlier this year to stem the virus. The World Health Organization has not approved the mixture.
Vaccines in Madagascar have never been popular among the general population. The island in 2018 was among the last four countries in the world registering polio cases from its stance on vaccines.
Meanwhile, the government spokesperson said they were waiting to see the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine first in the countries that will first use it.
The World Health Organization has urged on Friday countries in Africa to prepare for the arrival of a vaccine as soon as possible. W.H.O warned that African countries are far from ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, whenever one becomes available.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention AfricaCDC has also said vaccinating people will be a big challenge in Africa where more than 2.1 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed –that’s less than 4% of the global total cases.
People on the Africa continent have been urged to rely on the public health measures that have been put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
General: COVID-19 Vaccines Will Be Ready For Delivery 24 Hours After FDA Authorization
Four-Star general Gustave Perna who is leading the U.S. government’s operation warp speed, the crash program to develop, produce, and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 300 million Americans, says he is confident vaccines will be “on the streets 24 hours after being authorized by the food and drug administration.
The operation is stockpiling anticipated vaccines made by six different drug makers.
While the first two vaccines to be distributed will likely be from Pfizer and Moderna, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Affairs, Alex Azar, described the news from Astra zeneca’s clinical trials as “very promising” and noted that the company’s vaccine is already being produced in the country so it too can be ready for distribution once authorized by the FDA.
Azar confirmed the drugmaker is already producing mass quantities of the vaccine in the U.S.
Last week, Pfizer applied for authorization from the FDA and a hearing date was set for mid-December.
Kenya Nurses Issue Strike Warning
Kenyan nurses have issued a 14-day strike action warning to the government. The medical workers sign the notice, citing lack of a safe working environment and protective gears- PPE`s. They are demanding that the government declare COVID-19 an occupational hazard. They are also asking to be provided with comprehensive medical cover.
The nurses’ union secretary general Seth Panyako alleged, eighteen nurses have died from COVID-19 after treating patients with the virus. He added that once the strike notice lapses, the healthcare workers will not return to work unless their issues are addressed.
The notice comes a week after doctors issued a strike notice over the same issues.
More than 78,500 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Kenya including 1,409 deaths being reported.
More than 30 healthcare workers are reported to have died after contracting the virus since the country confirmed its first case in March.