US-German vaccine “groundbreaking” but not a “magic bullet”

US-German vaccine “groundbreaking” but not a “magic bullet”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While early analysis of a coronavirus vaccine by Drugmaker Pfizer shows “groundbreaking” strides in the coronavirus fight, prevention will have to continue for a while, said National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Director Dr Nikkiah Forbes.

Yesterday, United States-based Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech announced that initial analysis from its vaccine candidate shows it is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants who had never been infected with the virus.

The interim analysis, which began on July 27, enrolled 43,538  participants who were administered either two doses of the vaccine or a placebo.

It looked at the first 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and found that 10 percent of the infections were in people who had the vaccine, and 90 percent of the infection were people given a placebo.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Forbes called the data “extraordinary news” and “very promising” for the fight against COVID-19.

“This is [ground] breaking because you don’t usually have a vaccine available within a year of a new infection,” she said.

Based on current projections, the company said it is expected to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Asked whether The Bahamas will be in line to receive orders of the latest vaccine, Forbes said that will be up to the World Health Organization.

She noted that while Pfizer Inc is a “reputable drug company”, The Bahamas gets its vaccines from the WHO procurement mechanism.

“We would need to wait or see whether or not this is part of the vaccines that are procured,” Forbes said.

“We have reached more than 50 million cases and there have been more than 1.2 million deaths [globally].

“We will need to ensure that the vaccine is accessible and available worldwide when it’s available, and that includes countries like The Bahamas.”

Forbes maintained that a vaccine is “not a magic bullet”.

“There is still going to be time needed for uptake of the vaccine in terms of the susceptible population, the world’s population,” Forbes added.

“There’s also going to take time for distribution of it and for people to get the vaccines.

“There has to be more than two doses of the vaccine.”

She said while the information is very promising, “we are going to be doing COVID prevention for a while”.

Pfizer Inc said it plans to submit the vaccine for emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected to occur in the third week of November.