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Pfizer announces that its COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective, based on tests with 44,000 people. The vaccine may be available by the end of the year. Is this the end of covid-19? Thereby, Pfizer herself stresses that the results are based on the third stage of testing. And that testing stage hasn’t been completed yet. We have analyzed the reactions of experts on this news.
The good news: hope on a working vaccine
Obviously, a vaccine that works against corona is good news anyhow. How good, is another question. While most experts say that they can judge the vaccine really if tests are completed and the underlying data is available, most experts are possitive about the news
How good is the vaccine?
Analyzing the reactions of experts, some of important questions to judge the effectiveness of the new vaccine are:
- what is the duration of protection?
- is the vaccine protecting the elderly, since the immune system weakens with age?
- Does the vaccine protect from spreading the virus?
- ‘scientific questions’ and logistics
What is the duration of protection?
In this stage, it is unclear what the duration of the protection is. Of course, the vaccine is still in its testing stage. Besides, our knowledge of covid-19 has much improved since the outbreak. But due to the youth of this virus, we still know little about it. In the ideal world, we would have a vaccine which would protect a lifetime. If it doesn’t, how long will the protection last?
Is the vaccine protecting the elderly?
It remains unclear if the vaccine is protecting the elderly as well as youthful people. The elderly and weak persons would benefit the most of a working vaccine. They have the largest risk of getting seriously ill. Leading to hospital or even death. But: as age increases, the immune system weakens. The BBC explains this in this article…
Does the vaccine protect from spreading the virus?
The third point which is unclear, is if the vaccine only protects the injected person from getting ill. Or that it protects the vaccinated from spreading the virus as well.
‘Scientific’ questions and logistics
The fourth question are some ‘scientific’ questions and logistics. Many experts state that they need to see the data first before they can make a real judgement (and again: also, Pfizer emphasizes that their message is based on testing results). Besides there’s the point of logistics: when there will be final proof of the effectiveness, Pfizer won’t be able to produce the vaccine for the whole world immediately. So, countries who have bought already the vaccine will go first. Probably, the weak and caretakers will be vaccinated first.
Science Media Centre has collected “reactions to pfizer and biontech reporting interim results from phase 3 covid-19 vaccine trial in this article. We quote from this article the reaction of Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham: “It’s great news that the Pfizer vaccine is reported to be 90% effective, but it’s important to understand what that means. For a vaccine to be truly effective it needs to protect those most vulnerable from suffering severe COVID-19 or prevent those less vulnerable from becoming infected and then transmitting the virus to others. Simply reducing the appearance of symptoms in people who would otherwise have experienced mild infection, is unlikely to have a major benefit. Indeed, in a worst-case scenario if vaccinated people become infected with the virus and assume they are protected it might mean they can still spread the virus asymptomatically. Vaccines will be incredibly important in our battle against this virus, but we need to be assured that they will perform as we would hope.”
Following the Covid-19 measures remain important
We believe that, at least before there is a working vaccine largely available, following the Covid-19 measures remain important, such as: wash your hands regularly, wear a mouth mask and keep the social distance. Find out how a Covid buzzer can help you with keeping the social distance here.
- expert reaction to Pfizer and BioNTech reporting interim results from phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial
- Het veelbelovende kandidaat-vaccin van Pfizer in zeven vragen (en antwoorden!) (in Dutch)
- Diederik Gommers over mogelijk vaccin Pfizer: ‘Ik weet niet helemaal zeker of het klopt’ (in Dutch)
- Pfizer-vaccin: ‘Mogelijk in voorjaar vaccineren’ (in Dutch)
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