Yesterday, hopes soared that an end to the pandemic may finally be in sight after an interim analysis showed Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine candidate provided 90 percent protection in trials. It performed much better than experts had hoped for and manufacturing has already started with Pfizer stating it hopes to supply 50 million doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Pfizer chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla said that “Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19,” adding that “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.”
The rush to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has gained traction in recent months and a representative from the Russian health ministry also claimed the country's Sputnik V is up to 90 percent effective. Great hopes have also been pinned on a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Oxford that successfully triggered a strong immune response in trials involving 1,077 people. Scientific journal The Lancet had published hugely promising results of Phase I/II trials in July for the University of Oxford vaccine and it provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.
Vaccines generally take years to develop but candidates are now being developed at an unprecedented pace. Nearly 200 Covid-19 vaccine candidates are now listed by the World Health Organization, according to The Guardian and several are already in advanced testing. The data shows that the bulk of candidates are in the pre-clinical stage of testing where the vaccine is given to animals to see if it triggers an immune response. 39 are in phase I trials where it is administered to a small group of people to determine whether it is safe. 18 are in phase II where the candidate is given to hundreds of people to evaluate further safety issues as well as dosage. The last stage is Phase III, of which 11 candidates are currently in, and it involves thousands of people receiving the vaccine to eliminate any final safety fears, particularly considering side effects.