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Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Is More Than 90 Percent Effective in Early Trial

The pharma company, which is working with German drug-maker BioNTech, released the results of its latest trial on November 9.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their COVID-19 vaccine has been 90 percent effective in patients who have not contracted the virus before. (J.M. Eddins Jr.)

New York State—and the rest of the US and world, for that matter—may not be out of the weeds just yet. But a glint of hope for a potentially mask-less, socially closer future came in the form of early trial results from one of several pharmaceutical corporations working on a COVID-19 vaccine.

In an early trial, pharma company Pfizer, which has its US headquarters in New York City, along with German drug-making partner BioNTech, announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing the virus in participants who hadn’t been infected before. (Per the New York Times, that efficacy rate is on par with the widely provided measles vaccine.) In all, the study tested 43,538 participants, 42 percent of whom had diverse backgrounds (30 percent of Americans tested had diverse backgrounds). Just 94 of the participants have contracted the virus thus far.

Pfizer and BioNTech, which landed a $1.95 billion federal contract to produce a vaccine by year’s end, began their vaccine trial on July 27, with 38,955 participants having received a second dosage of the vaccine as of November 8 (throughout the trials, 50 percent of participants have received two doses, the other half have received a placebo). The study is also looking to evaluate whether the vaccine will be effective for people who have already been infected with COVID-19, as well as whether it can ward off severe COVID-19–related diseases (see: severe COVID reactions among children). The trials will continue until a total of 164 participants out of the 40,000-plus contract the virus.

Worldwide, Pfizer and BioNTech project that they could produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Pfizer/BioNTech, of course, aren’t the only pharma companies attempting to complete a COVID vaccine, which would mean windfall profits. Companies such as Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson all have vaccines trials in the works, too.

Regeneron, which has an outpost in Troy, NY and is not working on a vaccine, made headlines last month when its experimental cocktail of drugs were used to treat President Trump, after he contracted the COVID-19 virus.

To date, 529,036 New Yorkers have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, with 25,947 succumbing to it. Lately, cases have been on the rise in the state, as well as in the Capital Region, jumping past the one percent threshold in recent days (the positivity rate was at 1.1 percent on November 7). Those totals are decidedly better than most of the state, though, which is seeing the largest spikes in positivity rates, outside of the city, in Central New York (2.6 percent), the Finger Lakes (3.5 percent) and Western New York (4.8 percent) regions. The region’s totals were last updated on November 8.

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Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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