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Expert Views: Pfizer, BioNTech Say Their COVID-19 Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

According to experts, According to US pharma company Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by them is over 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19

Expert Views: Pfizer, BioNTech Say Their COVID-19 Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective
  • Excellent phase-3 trials result , but we should remain cautious: Experts
  • Any positive news on a vaccine is good news for the world economy: Experts
  • 'There is a huge sense of optimism today," said an expert on trial results

Reuters: Pfizer Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study, a major victory in the fight against the pandemic. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. Following are reactions to the news.

Also Read: India Should Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence, Identify ‘Hesitancy Hotspots’: Immunisation Expert Heidi Larson

Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology at University of Warwick, Britain said,

It’s hard to interpret the interim analysis, but it does appear very encouraging. In this… preliminary analysis there is a significant reduction in the COVID-19, and I interpret that to mean that … individuals are not developing disease, but it doesn’t tell us anything about whether people are getting infected or not.

According to Russell Silbertson, Co-Head of Developed Market Fx & Rates at Asset Manager Ninety One, if the bearish view embedded in markets was that there was no effective vaccine any time soon priced in, clearly that needs significant repricing now.

You couple (this morning’s news) with the sheer weight of all the stimulus in markets, and that’s a very strong economic upside scenario.

Nikesh Patel, Head of Investment Strategy, Kempen Capital Management, London said that this is the first news that allows governments to start planning ahead to when economies can properly start to reopen from lockdowns. That gives them more visibility and concreteness about what fiscal policy they can take. He said,

Monetary policy can only go so far at this point and it needs to be a fiscal response for a real recovery and this kind of news is great as it allows governments to make that fiscal response without fear of endless support.

According to Neil Wilson, Chief Market Analyst at Markets.Com, whilst we are not there yet, news that this vaccine could be highly effective is the best thing markets could hope for. He said,

Public health officials will remind us there is a long road ahead, and many challenges will be faced along the way, but there is an enormous sense of optimism today – light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s just hope the vaccine deniers won’t get in the way, but 2021 just got a lot brighter.

Also Read: Anganwadi Centres, Schools, Panchayat Buildings To Be Used As COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Kenneth Broux, Fx Strategist at Societe Generale highlighted that the COVID-19 vaccine news adds to the positive risk tone in stocks and underpins high beta currencies vs the U.S. dollar. Any positive news on a vaccine is good news for the world economy and offers perspective for rebound/normalisation in 2021 growth, he said. John Moore, Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City said, “I can see nothing problematic.” As for what this means for other vaccines, Moore said,

Moderna’s is likely to work as well given the similar design and performance, and Novavax also, as it seems more potent. It’s harder to judge about the other candidates.

Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton said that this cautiously sounds like an excellent result from the phase 3 trials, but we should remain a little cautious. He added,

The provisional findings are made available in a press release, and the study is ongoing. However, if the final results show an effectiveness of anywhere near 90% with response in elderly and ethnic minority populations, that is an excellent result for a first generation vaccine. This has been seen before – the rapidly-produced ebola vaccine generated very high levels of effectiveness and exceeded all expectations. Equally, billions of dollars and numerous clinical trials have struggled to produce any form of vaccination against HIV. Science can be unpredictable.

Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London said that these new results represent the first demonstration of substantial efficacy of a vaccine candidate against COVID-19 disease which is very welcome news. It is important to bear in mind that these are early results based on a relatively small number of cases, she asserted. In addition, the efficacy estimate is based on seven days of follow-up of participants following the second dose; further data in the coming weeks and months will provide a better picture of longer-term vaccine efficacy, said Ms. Ghani. William Schaffner, Infectious Diseases Expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, United States said,

The efficacy data are really impressive. This is better than most of us anticipated. I would have been delighted with efficacy of 70% or 75%. 90% is very impressive for any vaccine. The study isn’t completed yet, but nonetheless the data look very solid.

Also Read: Centre Directs States To Coordinate Mechanism For Preparatory Activities Of COVID-19 Vaccine

Ian Jones, Professor of Virology at University of Reading, Britain highlighted,

Of all the vaccines currently in development the BioNtech product always looked like the most bang-per-buck as it is entirely focused on the part of the virus that binds to the human cell, the receptor binding domain. The only things we will not know for some time is the longevity of the response in all age groups, but assuming antibody titres are high that should be at least as good as any other vaccine currently in trial.

Florian Krammer, Professor at the Department Of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine At Mount Sinai, USA said,

These are fantastic results. The efficacy could be higher than expected, and this probably means that – at least in the U.S. – there will be an application for approval very soon. Of course, it would be better to see age-specific data, but I suspect that these will be published soon. Frankly, this is the best news I have received since Jan. 10.

Marylyn Addo, Head of Tropical Medicine Section, University Medical Center Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany said,

These are interesting first signals, but again they are only communicated in press releases. Primary data are not yet available and a peer-reviewed publication is still pending. We still have to wait for the exact data before we can make a final assessment. At present, there are still few details about the exact data, for example regarding different age groups and in which groups the 94 cases occurred exactly.

Bernd Salzberger, Head of Infectiology, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany said,

In the Pfizer/Biontech press release, the Phase II/III placebo-controlled observer-blinded study with the vaccine BNT162b2 reported a vaccine efficacy of over 90%. Although only a few events – a total of 94 cases – have been observed in the study so far, this is a very good result. No serious side effects have been reported – overall a very positive result, which will probably lead to an early approval.

Also Read: Exclusive: Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla On The Status of Coronavirus Vaccine ‘Covishield’, Its Pricing And More

Gerd Faetkenheuer, Head of Infectiology, Clinic I For Internal Medicine, University Hospital Cologne, Germany said,

These are great and promising data. It is incredible that in such a short period of time this progress with the development of a vaccine and clinical trials within a few months has been achieved. The results on efficacy and safety so far are excellent. I think this will have a major impact on our handling of the pandemic and I hope that large quantities of the vaccine will be available quickly. The researchers involved can only be congratulated.

Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London said that in terms of the impact on the COVID-19 pandemic, “it’s good news, but it’s not ‘overnight success’ good news”. Professor Altmann cautioned that this and other potentially successful vaccines would still need to be approved and delivered to people across the world, and this will still take many months. He added, however,

I always felt optimistic, and my optimism remains strong.

Carsten Brzeski, Global Head of Macro, ING said that the bigger driver of the economic outlook is from the outside factors. Right now that means the development of a vaccine, which is why we are following news on this front closely, he said. He added,

The base case we have already is that we are likely to get a vaccine by year-end and that it will be rolled out. So we do see news like this as positive. The worrying sign would be if we get negative news say on testing, that would hurt how we view the economic outlook.

Also Read: Vaccine Supply Is Not Unlimited, Prioritisation Has To Be Done: Dr VK Paul Of NITI Aayog On COVID-19 Vaccine When It Is Available

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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