The Pfizer Vaccine: Americans Will Be Served First

The potential vaccine that the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech are developing together is 90 percent effective against the corona virus. Both companies were able to report this on Monday before the opening of the American stock exchanges. But what does it mean when a vaccine is 90 percent effective?

Research in 43,538 patients in Phase 3 has shown that the vaccine that the two companies are developing together works almost perfectly against the virus. Whoever gets it would be protected from Covid-19 28 days later. But there must be a comment on this. These are preliminary results. With more research, that could still change, although experts agree that “it can’t get much better” at this stage.

There was more stunning news:

  • no serious health problems were reported in any of the participants after receiving the vaccine.
  • the vaccine would protect against Covid-19 for more than a year.

What does it mean when a vaccine is 90 percent effective?

The percentage is enormous, because it would position itself just behind the measles vaccine. That’s about 95 percent effective. In comparison, the flu shot doesn’t hit above 40 to 60 percent effectiveness.

When available?

Even if the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech meets required regulatory approvals by the end of November, both labs are already warning that they will not be able to deliver more than 50 million doses by the end of 2020. Furthermore, each person must be given 2 doses before the vaccine works.

A large part of the stock (600 million doses) is already reserved for the United States, according to the French business newspaper Les Echos. The European Commission and Pfizer / BioNTech are negotiating a contract for the supply of 300 million doses. But those negotiations are not yet fully concluded. The chance that the Americans will be served first is therefore real.

For a large part of the European population to have access to 1.3 billion doses (650 million inhabitants x 2 doses for each), it will probably have to be waited until 2021.

This vaccine also requires extreme cold storage, making distribution a logistical challenge. Therefore, it is quite possible that other candidate vaccines, if they prove effective, will be more widely used.

Antivaxxers are getting stronger

Then there is the problem of the vaccination itself. The most recent research from the World Economic Forum shows that only 3 in every 4 participants will get vaccinated. In France this even drops to 1 in 2.

Belgium is not part of the study, but according to the latest data Belgium still seems reasonably okay for now. Although there are many indications that it is also changing for us. 39% of the parents of young Flemish children indicate that they are concerned about serious side effects of vaccines. Another 32% believe that new vaccines are more risky than those that have been used longer.

Particularly alarming is that among the next generation of parents, today’s teenagers, one in four in our country already appears to think that vaccines are dangerous for a baby. The figures date from last year. How much they have evolved now that Covid-19 rules the world, we don’t know.

What is certain is that now that the world urgently needs a vaccine against Covid-19, the anti-vaccination camp is getting stronger.


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