The vaccine from pharmaceutical group Pfizer would reduce the risk of getting sick from the Covid-19 virus by 90%. The European Union is preparing to sign for 300 million doses.
The announcement by pharmaceutical group Pfizer that its vaccine against Covid-19 would reduce the risk of becoming ill with the virus by 90% raises immense hope around the world, with the United States believing that it could have an authorized vaccine of ‘here a few weeks and the European Union “early 2021”.
The European Union announced Tuesday 10th November 2020 that it was preparing to sign for 300 million doses of this new vaccine, three times more than the doses pre-ordered at this stage by the United States.
It is not yet clear whether the vaccine provides long-lasting immunity. But Pfizer’s announcement immediately sparked a wave of optimism and a leap in global stock markets, just ten months after the coronavirus was sequenced, a scientific feat.
Contract signed “in the coming days”
The EU “has concluded its negotiations” with the American Pfizer and the German BioNTech and will sign a contract “in the coming days” to buy up to 300 million doses of their vaccine against the Covid-19, announced the European Commissioner to Health Stella Kyriakides.
“We believe this contract will be signed in the next few days,” she said. It will be finalised “soon”, said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European executive.
The announced signing of the contract by the Europeans comes after the Americans have already pre-ordered 100 million doses and are planning the first vaccinations before the end of the year.
Three other contracts signed
Pfizer plans to file an application for authorization with the United States Medicines Agency (FDA), provided the vaccine is confirmed to be safe, by next week.
The distribution would only be a matter of “weeks”, assured Alex Azar, US Secretary of Health. The EU believes that a vaccine could be authorized “early 2021”, according to a European source.
The European executive had concluded in early September a preliminary agreement with BioNTech and Pfizer to pre-order 200 million doses of their vaccine with the option of acquiring one hundred million additional doses.
The EU has already signed three contracts to pre-order possible vaccines: with the Swedish-British AstraZenaca and the American Johnson & Johnson (up to 400 million doses from each), as well as with the Franco-British duo Sanofi-GSK (up to 300 million doses).
Two doses three weeks apart
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, found Pfizer’s announcement “encouraging”, welcoming in a tweet “unprecedented innovation and scientific collaboration to end the pandemic!” “.
US President Donald Trump hailed “excellent news”. Joe Biden, who will replace him at the White House on January 20, spoke of a sign of “hope”.
The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, postponed due to the pandemic, said on Tuesday 10th November that the announced success of the vaccine was a “relief”, even if they continued for the moment to prepare for the Olympics next summer in a no vaccine scenario.
According to Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, their vaccine, taken in two doses three weeks apart, is “90% effective”, according to preliminary results from a large-scale trial still in progress and which have not been detailed. It reduced the risk of getting sick in the vaccinated group by 90%, compared to the placebo group.
100 million doses pre-ordered by the United States
For Americans, who have pre-ordered 100 million doses, that means the first vaccinations could start before the end of the year, provided safety is confirmed, by next week. Pfizer then planned to file an authorization request with the United States Medicines Agency (FDA), which will have to decide whether the vaccine is safe and effective.
The distribution would only be a matter of “weeks”, assured Fox News Alex Azar, Secretary of Health to Donald Trump, the president who has made vaccine development the basis of his response to the health crisis.
Available “early 2021” in Europe
In the European Union, which has pre-purchased 200 million doses and is negotiating for 100 million others, the vaccine could be available “early 2021”, according to a European source.
Other countries – Japan, Canada, United Kingdom… – have also placed orders with Pfizer, and initial demand is guaranteed to exceed supply, Pfizer anticipating being able to manufacture 50 million doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion next year.
Other expected results
NGOs have nevertheless been worried for months about the monopolization of doses by rich countries, as well as the price at which Pfizer will sell the vaccine. “The vaccine will be 0% effective for people who do not have the means to access it,” responded Robin Guittard, spokesperson for Oxfam France.
Another experimental vaccine, developed by the American company Moderna and whose results are expected in the coming weeks, uses the same new technology, based on messenger RNA.
And the world is also awaiting the results of another very advanced vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
Stop for the Chinese trial
The CoronaVac vaccine candidate from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac Biotech, on the other hand, has come to a halt: the Brazilian health authority announced overnight Monday to Tuesday to have suspended clinical trials after “a serious incident” noted at a volunteer.
Sinovac Biotech said Tuesday it was “confident in the safety of the vaccine”, saying in a statement that the incident in question was “unrelated” to the vaccine.
The Brazilian Health Vigilance Agency (Anvisa) did not provide details on what happened, but said such incidents could include death.