COVID-19 vaccine: BioNTech and Pfizer report 90% effectiveness in trials

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read

Watch: Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective

Germany’s BioNTech (BNTX) and its US pharma partner Pfizer (PFE) announced on Monday that their vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a trial of over 43,000 participants.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,“ said Dr Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer in a statement.

“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.”

Based on current projections from the company, it expects to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

READ MORE: BioNTech signs deal with New Zealand for 1.5 million vaccine doses

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial of their messenger-RNA (MRNA) vaccine for scientific peer-review publication.

Bourla said that they are “reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program 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 Phase 3 clinical trial of their vaccine started on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 38,955 of whom have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of 8 November, 2020. The company said that about 42% of global participants and 30% of US participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.

BioNTech HQ in Mainz, Germany. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
BioNTech HQ in Mainz, Germany. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech Co-founder and CEO in a statement. “We will continue to collect further data as the trial continues to enroll for a final analysis planned when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued.”

"Stock markets surged on some extremely positive news from Pfizer and Biontech, who say their vaccine is 90% effective in phase 3 clinical trials," said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for markets.com.

"I won’t lay with lots of comment about the trials as I am no vaccine expert, all I can say is this is a good news day. Whilst we are not there yet, news that this vaccine could be highly effective is the best thing markets could hope for.

“Public health officials will remind us there is a long road ahead, and many challenges will be faced along the way, but there is an enormous sense of optimism today – light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s just hope the vaccine deniers won’t get in the way, but 2021 just got a lot brighter."

Watch: Why financial markets have (mostly) taken such a positive turn

READ MORE: Germany backs domestic firms with €750m to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Several pharma and biotech companies have currently put their vaccine candidates into Phase 3 trials, including US-based Moderna (MRNA). AstraZeneca AstraZeneca (AZN.L), which paused its trial temporarily from September into October, said it was also expecting results from the Phase 3 trials “later this year.”

Also from Germany, medtech company CureVac (CVAC) said it expects its vaccine to be ready by the end of the year.

Downing Street welcomed the results from Pfizer’s vaccine tests as “promising” and said the UK will have procured 10 million doses by the end of the year to be given out if it is approved.

The news comes as the total of confirmed coronavirus cases globally has surged past 50 million following record numbers of new cases in several countries.

More than 1.25 million people have now died after contracting the virus, according to Johns Hopkins university.

A number of countries have also recently tightened lockdowns. France, Italy, Germany and the UK have all recently imposed total or partial lockdown restrictions, including new rules on travel.

FTSE 100 day chart. Source: Yahoo Finance
FTSE 100 day chart. Source: Yahoo Finance