A coronavirus vaccine candidate in development from Pfizer and BioNTech was found to be more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19 in a first interim analysis, the companies announced on Monday.
Pfizer said that an early analysis of 94 participants suggests "a vaccine efficacy rate above 90 percent." This was a better rate than anticipated, and the FDA has said it would authorize a vaccine that's at least 50 percent effective, The Wall Street Journal notes. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has also said he would "settle" for a vaccine that's between 70 and 75 percent effective.
"Today is a great day for science and humanity," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. "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."
The news comes as the United States passes 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer's head of vaccine research and development, told The Washington Post this is a "historical moment," adding that "hearing that at the interim analysis we are over 90 percent effective — it was almost stunning to hear." Still, The New York Times notes that this announcement is "not conclusive evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, and the initial finding of more than 90 percent efficacy could change as the trial goes on."
Pfizer had previously said it could seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine candidate in the third week of November, and Bourla on Monday said that "we look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks."