Here’s the COVID-19 vaccine update: Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, almost all countries across the world have been racing against time to formulate a coronavirus vaccine that can immunize us against the coronavirus. The virus has claimed millions of lives and has wreaked tremendous economic havoc. On top of that, scientists have realized that even if COVID symptoms go away, serious long-term effects are showing up which can become an even greater health crisis. The sooner the vaccine hits the market, the better.
A number of vaccines, including 2 in India, are in the 2nd and 3rd phases of human trials. But our patience is wearing out. In the midst of all this gloom, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer surprised everyone by announcing that its vaccine candidate will be marketed by December 2020 or January 2021 tops. Here’s what we know about the situation so far.
Pfizer’s corona vaccine update
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech began human trials in June this year. Since then the vaccine has been tried on 44,000 in different stages. Officials at both pharmaceuticals have said that trials went on as expected and there were no set-backs. They expect the results of the trials to be in by the 3rd week of November. If everything is positive and there does not need to be a tweak in the formulation, Pfizer will apply for emergency authorization of the vaccine.
Pfizer has said it would immediately roll out 40 million doses as soon as regulatory bodies give them the green light.
What are the critics saying?
Scientists are skeptical and feel that Pfizer is rushing in order to stay ahead of its nearest competitors Moderna and AstraZeneca and be the first pharma to launch a COVID vaccine. For example, Pfizer will only wait for 32 infections among the 440,000 people it has tested the drug on before they analyze the results. Whereas Moderna and AstraZeneca will only carry out the first-look analysis after 53 and 75 cases have been confirmed in their trial groups respectively. This would give them a larger data pool to understand if there are any shortcomings with their vaccine.
What this means for India
The world will soon find out how effective the Pfizer vaccines will be. We will want to carry out our own analysis as well for getting the corona vaccine in India. If Indian scientists are satisfied, then the government may approach the pharma giant for collaboration. But even if results are not satisfactory, we needn’t worry because we have already tied up with AstraZeneca and our indigenous vaccines Covax and Zydus Cadila have shown promising results. Everyone is hopeful that the vaccines will be ready by March 2021.
In the meantime, what we can do is maintain COVID protocol and follow all hygiene guidelines. We need to stay at home as much as possible and if we step out, we need to wear masks and use sanitizers. Remember, we might have to wait for months before we get vaccinated. Even if the vaccine is available by March 2021, only frontline workers will be eligible for it. So let us all be patient and carry on with the COVID precautions.