With COVID-19 infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity, and economies around the world struggling to reopen, there is finally some good news.
American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has conducted a final analysis of its Phase 3 vaccine trial and found that its solution is extremely effective in preventing COVID-19. The vaccine, made in conjunction with German drugmaker BioNTech, has proven to be 95% effective among the trial’s 43,538 volunteers, up from a 90% in its preliminary analysis.
The next step will be for Pfizer to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine, which it plans to do later this month after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data. Pfizer and BioNTech also plan to ask the European Medicines Agency for permission to distribute the vaccine in Europe. Pfizer execs say that by the end of 2020, it will be able to manufacture enough vaccine doses to immunize 25 million people.
Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla stated, “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. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
Bourla went on to say, “We could not have come this far without the tremendous commitment of everyone involved.”
So let’s meet the team of scientists responsible for this breakthrough, which will bring us one step closer to normalcy.
Dr. Luis Jodar is Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer for Vaccines Medical Development and Medical/Scientific Affairs. In this role, he oversees a team of around 200 doctors and experts that help him drive Pfizer’s vaccines medical development, clinical, and scientific affairs. Dr. Jodar is a veteran of the World Health Organization, where he led global vaccine research. He also was a central figure in the Task Force for Vaccines and Viral Diseases at the European Commission in Brussels.
Another important figure in Pfizer’s vaccine development program is Nanette Cocero, the Global President of Pfizer Vaccines. Cocero is responsible for the development and delivery of innovative vaccines that address serious and life-threatening conditions, like COVID-19. She also leads Pfizer’s efforts to team up with governments, civic organizations, and other biopharmaceutical companies (like BioNTech) to accelerate initiatives that improve global public health.
Dr. William Gruber is the SVP of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, making him responsible for the company’s global clinical development of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Gruber has been a central figure as the company has raced to get a solution to market. Commenting on the success of the latest COVID vaccine trial, Gruber told STAT, “I’ve been in vaccine development for 35 years. I’ve seen some really good things. This is extraordinary.” He went on to say, “This really bodes well for us being able to get a handle on the epidemic and get us out of this situation.”
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