Officials excited over vaccine reports

·3 min read

A “GAME changer” and a “ray of hope.”

That’s how Malacañang and the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) describe the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. which has been reported to be “remarkably 90 percent effective” based on early and incomplete results.

Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said news of the vaccine offers a ray of hope that the Covid-19 pandemic would soon be under control.

“We only need around 60 to 70 percent of effectivity to tell if it achieves its role. For the 90 percent effectivity, that is good if it’s true,” said Loreche.

However, since Pfizer has yet to complete the study, Loreche said the public must remain cautious and follow government-imposed health protocols to avoid being infected with the virus.

Loreche stressed that vaccines cannot give a hundred percent protection from bacteria and viruses as these could still continue to infect people.

Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed news of the new Pfizer vaccine.

“The availability of the vaccine will be a game changer, where we go from avoidance to actively minimizing the threat of the infection,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

New vaccine

Pfizer’s announcement on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 brought a big burst of optimism to a world desperate for the means to finally bring the Covid pandemic under control.

The announcement came less than a week after an election seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s handling of the scourge, which has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide, including almost a quarter-million in the United States alone.

“We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope,” Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. “We’re very encouraged.”

Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, now is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, once it has the necessary safety information in hand.

Timeline

Even if all goes well, authorities have stressed it is unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and the limited initial supplies will be rationed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the results suggesting 90 percent effectiveness are “just extraordinary.”

Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization’s senior adviser, said Pfizer’s vaccine could “fundamentally change the direction of this crisis” by March, when the U.N. agency hopes to start vaccinating high-risk groups.

Pfizer released no specific breakdowns, but for the vaccine to be 90 percent effective, nearly all the infections must have occurred in placebo recipients.

The study is continuing, and Pfizer cautioned that the protection rate might change as more Covid-19 cases are added to the calculations.

‘Great news’

Trump, who had suggested repeatedly during the presidential campaign that a vaccine could be ready by election day, tweeted: “STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!”

Pfizer has estimated it could have 50 million doses available globally by the end of 2020, enough for 25 million people.

Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group, called the release of the preliminary and incomplete data “bad science” and said that any enthusiasm over the results “must be tempered” until they are reviewed by the FDA and its independent experts.

“Crucial information absent from the companies’ announcement is any evidence that the vaccine prevents serious Covid-19 cases or reduces hospitalizations and deaths due to the disease,” the organization said. (KFD, AP)