Pfizer’s announcement that its vaccine was found to be 90% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus in clinical trial participants has many in the medical community celebrating, but the development likely won’t change the projected distribution timeline.
“It doesn’t mean a ton of changes to the timeline of things,” Dr. Katie Passaretti, medical director of infection prevention at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center, told Fox News, adding that it also doesn’t change the landscape of the several other vaccine candidates currently in development.
As far as production goes, Pfizer said it expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. The projection echoes previous estimates made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and others. It also highlights the need for more than one company to develop a safe and effective vaccine.
Passaretti said the news about the vaccine’s efficacy is “potentially super exciting” but added that the press release doesn’t include the safety data, and it hasn’t been reviewed by the FDA. It also doesn’t comment on how it does in preventing severe disease, or the potential for long-term side effects.
The company said it expects to have data on safety available by the third week of November, but that current analysis shows it was found to be more 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“There’s much to know about the vaccine – but at least that piece is a very important one that certainly sounds promising,” she said.
Passaretti said Pfizer and the other companies working to develop a coronavirus vaccine should continue to be transparent and distribute data and information to help combat vaccine hesitancy.
“It’s potentially a big issue,” she said. “Vaccine hesitancy has become a concern for a number of infectious diseases – there’s a large chunk of the population that says, ‘No I’m not willing to get it,’ the benefit of the vaccine goes down significantly.”