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Opinion

Covid-19 vaccine update: Pfizer announces 95% efficacy, Spain authorizes phase 3 trial of Janssen candidate

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With the announcement of several companies developing potential vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) about the efficacy of their respective candidates, hopes have been rekindled that an injection to treat the infection will soon be available. However, the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine could still take some time. This is because while most of these candidate vaccines have not yet completed the testing phase, those that have completed testing have not yet been approved for use by health regulators.

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In the latest update on the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, US drugmaker Pfizer Inc announced on Wednesday that its candidate was 95% effective. The announcement came on a day when the United States became the first country to cross the 250,000 Covid-19 death mark.

Here are the latest updates on the development of a vaccine for Covid-19:

1. Pfizer, which is developing a vaccine in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech SE, said that candidate BNT162b2 was found to be 95% effective in the final analysis of its phase 3 trial. Pfizer said there were 170 cases of Covid-19 in its trial with more than 43,000 volunteers, adding that it would apply for emergency use authorization (USA) in a few days. Randeep Guleria, director of the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), pointed out last week that storing the Pfizer vaccine will be a big challenge for India as it must be stored and transported at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Read also | Difficult to keep Pfizer vaccine at minus 70 degrees Celsius, says AIIMS chief

2. Spain has authorized the phase 3 trials of the vaccine being developed by Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceutica, owned by Johnson. This is the first candidate vaccine to enter phase 3 trials in the country. The trials will be conducted in nine hospitals; 20% of the participants will be under 40 years of age and 30% over 60 years of age. Janssen, whose vaccine candidate is called Ad26.COV2-S, announced in late September the start of phase 3 trials of its candidate.

Read also | Older people, pregnant women and healthcare workers will be first in line for the Covid vaccine: Odisha

3. Even as the race to find a Covid-19 vaccine continues, US health officials said Wednesday that the freezers needed to store the vaccines, once approved, are installed in health facilities that are being preparing to administer initial doses. The US government will have 40 million doses, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, by the end of December if the vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna Inc. gain approval for emergency use, authorities said.

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