Everything you need to know about the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine summed up in 4 points

The race to find a way to deal with the coronavirus continues. The reality in this pandemic is that after the new and old tests and the list of preventive measures that is being expanded more and more (to wash your hands and not touch your face, the mandatory mask has already been added and now we have to ventilate) we are lacking good news and that's why the announcement by Pfizer and Biontech that their vaccine (BNT162b2) against Covid-19 is more than 90% effective the bridge has made us happy.

The data that the company has provided in its press release have been obtained from pFirst interim efficacy analysis conducted on November 8. This phase 3 trial of the vaccine (the last phase used to test a drug to ensure its safety and efficacy) has evaluated 43,538 participants and the data that Pfizer uses to proclaim the efficacy of its drug is based on the evaluation of 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 that have occurred in trial participants. Is the data as good as the lab claims? Let's see what the experts say in four keys.

1. What is the Pfizer vaccine like (and how is it different from the others).

What sets this vaccine apart from all the others that are currently being researched and developed is how it is made. The Pfizer Vaccine is performed with a technique that, if approved, would be used for the first time in humans.

The vaccine has been made with a technique called Messenger RNA (mMRA for short): a part of the genetic material of the coronavirus has been extracted and introduced into a capsule that is capable of penetrating our cells. The theory states that once this information reaches our cells, they are capable of manufacturing antigens against the coronavirus, and these antigens are responsible for training the immune system against infection.

2. What does Pfizer say about its vaccine?

The preliminary data that the pharmaceutical company manages (and which is what it has published) affirm that individuals who receive two doses of vaccine with three weeks of difference between the first dose and the second experienced 90% fewer cases of symptomatic Covid-19 than those who received a placebo. It is the first of the eleven vaccines currently being tested that has announced positive results in this phase of the process.

Pfizer's vaccine appears to be the first to prove highly effective.

3. Will we then have an effective coronavirus vaccine soon?

Well yes and no. Although the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has already announced that in 2021 some 10,000 Spaniards will be able to be immunized thanks to this vaccine, the results that the laboratory has announced are preliminary and there are still things to be verified. Phase 3 of your study has to continue and respect the guidelines of the United States Food and Drug Administration, which is the US agency in charge of accepting or rejecting a drug.

Pfizer has already stated that it will not request that approval until it has studied the safety of the vaccine in at least half of the study volunteers, data that it will analyze when they have at least a couple of months after the second dose of vaccine has been given. If all goes well, those results will be available in the third week of November.

4. What the experts like least about the Pfizer vaccine

Several things. Experts like the American virologist Angela Rasmussen, Research Associate at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University School of Public Health They caution that although it sounds like good news, our expectations of this discovery must be managed realistically.

The first point to keep in mind is that right now the information released by Pfizer is premature, among other things because the vaccine has only been tested for three and a half months, in few people, and its data has not been published in any scientific journal. Experts say that there is still much to do with this vaccine (although some are already suggesting that the US FDA approve it urgently). For example, it is not clear how it would work in different age groups, if immunity would be maintained over time or if it protects people with previous pathologies (which are, precisely, those that are most likely to get sick with the most serious variants of Covid).

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In addition, a priori, it seems that although everything goes well with the Pfizer formula, this is not going to be a vaccine for everyone due to its own characteristics. In order not to lose efficacy, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept ultra-cold (at about -70 degrees, which leaves places where this cold chain cannot be guaranteed 100% … which is almost any current health system), in addition to requiring two injections with three weeks between first and second injections, which delays the vaccination of individuals: it takes more time to immunize people and many more resources because to immunize a single person it is necessary to double the doses, which is a logistical challenge for the laboratory.

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