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Hopes of COVID-19 vaccine after patient trials show promising data

Yesterday the world received the very welcome news that a COVID-19 vaccine could be cleared for use before December if regulators approve safety data.

Posted on 10 November 2020

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 late last year, scientists around the globe have raced to develop vaccines that work against the pathogen. The first vaccine to near the end of patient trials has now been produced by pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNtech.
 
They have trialled the vaccine on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised, reports the BBC.
 
The trials were carried out in US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
 
The vaccine involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code, in order to train the immune system. Previous trials have shown the vaccine trains the body to make both antibodies and another part of the immune system called T-cells, to fight the coronavirus.
 
The results show that two doses, three weeks apart, are needed to offer protection against COVID-19. It is reported that data showed ninety per cent protection was achieved seven days after the second dose.
 
Trials are continuing and the data presented is based on only the first 94 volunteers to develop COVID.
 
The BBC report states that there are around a dozen vaccines in the final stages of testing - known as phase 3 trials - but the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine is the first to show any results. 
 
Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators.
 
The precise effectiveness of the vaccine may change when the full results are analysed, according to the BBC report.
 
The chairman of Pfizer, Dr Albert Bourla, is reported as saying:
 
"We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis."
 
Pfizer and BioNtech expect to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. The BBC reports that the UK should get 10 million doses by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.
 
Leigh Day partner Gene Matthews, who has a particular expertise in consumer law and clinical trials, said:
 
“Scientists, academics and clinicians have been working tirelessly since the outbreak, to establish effective vaccines and treatments in response to COVID-19. Yesterday’s news of a vaccine brings hope to people across the world. For a vaccine to be produced in such a short space of time is a massive step forward for us all and we congratulate those who have worked so hard to achieve it. We look forward to hearing more about the vaccine in the next few weeks, including the patient safety data. A clear understanding as to the safety of any vaccine is likely to be key to public engagement, it will enable any genuine safety concerns to be properly addressed (and any misinformation can be thoroughly refuted).”