COVID-19 vaccine explained: How it will affect you
WHAT HAVE PFIZER AND BIONTECH DISCOVERED?
The pharmaceutical company and German biotech giant have discovered positive early results from a phase 3 clinical trial of their coronavirus vaccine.
In looking at 94 cases of COVID-19 in trial participants, they found after they received two shots of either the vaccine or the placebo, the vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective at seven days after the second dose.
The team said their results suggest protection against the virus is achieved 28 days after the first vaccination.
WHO WAS INVOLVED IN THE STUDY?
The Phase 3 clinical trial of BNT162b2 began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants from six countries to date, 38,955 of whom have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of November 8. Approximately 42 per cent of global participants and 30 per cent of American participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.
HOW DOES THIS VACCINE WORK?
It has genetic material called mRNA that enables the production of "spike proteins" that sit outside of coronavirus. The vaccine introduces this mRNA to the body, triggering human cells to produce the spike protein. The body produces antibodies, and other immune pathways to stop infection. It does not have the virus in the dose, making it faster to produce.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
The researchers involved have not seen any safety issues so far.
WILL THE TRIAL CONTINUE?
Yes. It will continue through to final analysis of 164 confirmed cases to collect more data about the effectiveness of the vaccine. The study also will evaluate the potential for the vaccine candidate to provide protection against COVID-19 in those who have had prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as well as vaccine prevention against severe COVID-19 disease.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING NOW TO ENSURE IT'S SAFE?
Pfizer and BioNTech are working to prepare necessary safety and manufacturing data to submit to the Federal Drug Administration to demonstrate the safety and quality of the vaccine product produced as soon as the third week of November. They are also planning to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-review publication.
HOW MUCH DO THEY THINK THEY CAN PRODUCE?
Based on current projections they expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
WHEN COULD WE SEE THE FIRST ROLLOUT?
In the UK, Boris Johnson's spokesman said the UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine, 10 million of which are due to be available before the end of the year. But this is assuming there are no safety issues observed.
ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH ROLLING IT OUT WORLDWIDE?
The vaccine needs cold storage, which could affect the ability to get it to countries with poorer health facilities or rural areas where there is no/poor electricity.
HOW MUCH HAS AUSTRALIA ORDERED?
The mRNA vaccine can be produced at scale quickly and Australia ordered 10 million doses in a deal announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.
WHEN CAN AUSTRALIANS EXPECT TO SEE THE FIRST DOSES OF A VACCINE AGAINST COVID-19?
Australia has secured two more potential COVID-19 vaccines, further boosting the nation's chances of being immunised against the deadly disease next year.
The agreements with Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech will deliver 50 million doses, imported from overseas, likely to arrive in early 2021 if they prove safe and effective.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said securing multiple COVID-19 vaccines options would give Australians the "best shot" at early access to a successful drug.
"We aren't putting all our eggs in one basket and we will continue to pursue further vaccines should our medical experts recommend them," he said.
"There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful, however our Strategy puts Australia at the front of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light."
Added to the existing agreements in place for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca and the University of Queensland/CSL options, Australia now has two protein vaccines, one mRNA and one viral vector type vaccine in its portfolio.
Originally published as COVID-19 vaccine explained: How it will affect you