An experimental COVID-19 vaccine being created by America’s pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, and the German firm, BioNTech, activated immune responses in receivers more than individuals naturally recovering from an infection, according to a small journal published online yesterday.
However, the research work has not yet been certified by other medical experts and it is still unknown what degree of immune response will protect an individual from falling sick. Still, medical experts praised Pfizer for publishing the data on 45 people and said the results encouraged moving to a larger clinical trial to test if the COVID-19 vaccine is actually safe and effective for humans.
“It’s the first positive data I’ve seen coming out of Operation Warp Speed,” Peter Jay Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said to Washington Post, referring to the U.S. government effort to speed up the development, testing, and production of multiple coronavirus vaccines. “I’m really happy Pfizer took the initiative to publish it, whereas the others haven’t. I think we need to see more of this.”
Quick fact about COVID-19: Although for some individuals, the COVID-19 virus causes only mild illness, it can make other individuals seriously ill. The disease can be very fatal, especially among older individuals, and those with compromised immunities (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart problems) appear to be more susceptible.
The 45 individuals were randomly selected in receiving injections of one of three different dose levels of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine. 21 days later, after the initial dose, they got a second one.
Ugur Sahin, co-founder, and chief executive of BioNTech, told the Financial Times that his firm was going for a higher level of neutralizing antibody responses in order to increase the probability that those individuals vaccinated are prevented from spreading COVID-19 or being infected again.
“If you don’t know the level required to control this virus if you don’t know the power of the enemy, you don’t want the response to be too weak,” Sahin said.