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Coronavirus vaccine updates: How concrete are 'efficacy' claims by 3 leading candidates

These early efficacy figures don't tell the whole story. The data results are based on a relatively smaller group of participants who received these vaccine shots. The actual efficacy could be known only after the final results are out as Phase 3 clinical trials end

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | November 17, 2020 | Updated 19:01 IST
Coronavirus vaccine updates: How concrete are 'efficacy' claims by 3 leading candidates
A coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50 per cent effective before regulators consider approving it for public use

Modern Inc and Pfizer Inc vaccine candidates have joined the race along with Russia's Gamaleya Center to deliver the vaccines at a lightning fast speed. While Russia had already rolled out the Sputnik V for the masses in August, the recently announced early data results on the efficacy of Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine, and Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162b2 vaccine raise high hopes. The vaccine candidates have shown very high levels of efficacy with relatively smaller data. While Russia claims Sputnik V has shown 92 per cent efficacy, Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines have shown 94.5 percent and 90 per cent efficacy, respectively.

 

Also read: Too early to jump for joy over COVID-19 vaccine; here's why

However, these broad, early efficacy figures don't tell the whole story. The data results are based on a relatively smaller group of participants who received these vaccine shots. Moderna's vaccine was analysed based on results of 95 patients, while Sputnik V's efficacy was observed by analysing just 20 participants. Pfizer's vaccine was analysed using the data of 94 patients only.

Also Read: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 94.5% effective; can be stored in homes, clinics for 30 days

Nonetheless, those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent the virus and are safe. The efficacy numbers will, however, change as the vaccine trials advance. The early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated. However, the actual efficacy could be known only after the final results are out as Phase 3 clinical trials end.

Also read: Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine found 90% effective in fighting virus

A coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50 per cent effective before regulators consider approving it for public use. There are also concerns that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20 per cent to 60 per cent effective in recent years.

Overall, the Pfizer-BioNTech combine is conducting its stage 3 trials involving 43,358 participants. Moderna also enrolled 30,000 participants for its late-stage trial. Russia has cleared its vaccine for mass rollout even though it's still undergoing final trials.

Also Read: '90-95% effective': Top US health expert vouches for Pfizer coronavirus vaccine's efficacy

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