BioNTech hopes COVID-19 vaccine will immunize for at least a year

Person wearing surgical gloves injecting a vaccine into a patient's arm

The coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by United States pharma giant Pfizer together with Germany's BioNTech is 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, the firms say.

Pfizer and BioNTech began testing the COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) with 43,538 participants on July 27, reporting that no serious safety concerns have been observed.

Submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the FDA is planned soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is now expected to occur in the third week of November. Still, over 90% effectiveness implies that no more than 8 of the 94 people who caught COVID-19 had been given the vaccine, which was administered in two shots about three weeks apart.

BioNTech's co-founder and chief executive said he was optimistic that the protective effect of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed with Pfizer, would last for at least a year. Of these, 38,955 have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate.

The case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90 percent, at seven days after the second dose.

Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer, said they are one step closer to bringing an end to the COVID-19 global crisis. The study continue and will also evaluate the potential for the vaccine candidate to provide protection against COVID-19 in those who have had prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as well as vaccine prevention against severe COVID-19 disease.

Additional safety data still needs to be collected, and the final vaccine efficacy percentage would need to be determined by Pfizer and BioNTech.

In addition to this minimum safety data, participants will be monitored for long-term protection and safety for an additional two years after their second dose.

The breakthrough with the COVID-19 vaccine comes at a critical time during the pandemic as positive cases of the virus continue to surge in several parts of the U.S. The country has reported over 9.9 million positive cases of the coronavirus and over 237,500 COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Pfizer was quoted as saying that it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of 2020, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

Shares of Pfizer were trading at $41.99 as of premarket open on Monday, up 15.36%.