Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine has proven more than 90% effective based on early human trials.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO and Chairman of Pfizer, said in a statement. “With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”
Pfizer, working alongside German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, could apply for emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as early as next week. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading expert on infectious diseases, said if the vaccine proves out and all the dominos fall just right, a significant number of individuals could be inoculated as early as the end of 2020.
Others are more skeptical, assuming a wait and see approach, particularly as only a small number of the 44,000 subjects involved in the initial Phase-3 trials had produced meaningful and usable data as of Monday.
The study continues, meaning the protection rate could drop. Monitoring is required for several weeks to gauge potential side effects, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta told CNN Monday that he wouldn’t be surprised if mass vaccinations weren’t available in the US until spring or even summer 2021.
Should the vaccine prove effective, it will be doled out in a specific order. The state of Hawai‘i released a COVID-19 vaccination plan on Oct. 22, outlining how a future vaccine will be distributed. Three phases of the vaccination rollout plan are as follows:
- Phase 1: Potentially limited doses available.
- Phase 2: Large number of doses available, supply likely to meet demand.
- Phase 3: Likely sufficient supply, slowing demand.
Critical target populations will be prioritized during the first phase of distribution. This will include high-risk health workers and first responders, people with underlying conditions that put them at higher risk, those over 65 years of age, and people living in crowded settings.
K-12 teachers and school staff, critical-risk workers in high-risk settings, people at moderately higher risk due to health concerns, homeless individuals, and those people confined to prisons or employed in such physical spaces will be the next groups prioritized. Everyone else will follow in the third wave of vaccinations.
If successful, Pfizer’s vaccine will be administered via two intervenous shots, the second coming three weeks following the first.
State officials have said Hawai‘i will not support the release of a vaccine that has not been approved by the FDA.