COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates Announced

By: Hayden Cordova | Managing Editor

With 2020 coming to an end, the pandemic has remained constant through a year of uncertainties.  However, recent developments from several bio-pharmaceutical companies’ studies have resulted in viable options for a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC, the federal government has been assisting a host of biopharmaceutical companies developing a COVID-19 vaccine through Operation Warp Speed since the beginning of the year, an initiative to provide 300 million doses of a safe vaccine by the end of 2020. 

On Nov. 9, bio-pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced that after a three-phase trial of clinical studies, their vaccine candidate BNT162b2 was 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.  For comparison, flu vaccination generally reduces the chance of contracting the flu by only 40 to 60 percent, according to the CDC.  This was the largest test range conducted for a COVID-19 vaccine, involving over 43,000 participants, with 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants.

“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19,” said BioNTech co-founder and CEO Prof. Ugur Sahin.  “This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort,” 

A few days later, Moderna released the results of their own three-phase study, showing that out of 95 participants with COVID-19, their vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 saw a success rate of 94.5 percent.  Moderna operated a smaller test group within the COVE study, which enrolled nearly 30,000 participants in the U.S.

The main obstacle that stands in the way of wide distribution is ensuring that the vaccine is safe and effective for the general public beyond the results of test groups.  The success of these two vaccines still has the potential to vary as tests continue. 

Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna have all projected the safety checks on their vaccines to be completed by the third week of November and to submit their results to the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization for faster distribution.  Pfizer and BioNTech expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 globally and increasing that number to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.  Moderna predicts that by the end of 2020, 20 million doses of their vaccine will ship in the U.S., and estimate 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021.

Despite some more hurdles to clear before widespread distribution can be a reality, the COVID-19 vaccine options supplied by the two companies can bring some hopeful closure to the year.

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