Ontario to get 2.4 million COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021: Elliott

Joanna Estrada
November 21, 2020

Wednesday's data from Pfizer and BioNTech, which builds on last week's data, suggests the vaccine is 95% effective based on 170 cases of Covid-19 developing in volunteers.

Both companies announced promising breakthroughs in their COVID-19 trials this week.

The vaccine has been tested on more than 40,000 people in six different countries, including the United States and Germany, who have each received a part of the virus genome that forces the body to develop natural immune defenses.

If the data is solid, "we literally could be weeks away from the authorization of a 95% effective vaccine", US Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar said on CBS's "This Morning".

Of the initial 2.4 million vaccines destined for Ontario, 1.6 million will be from Pfizer, and 800,000 will be from Moderna. The FDA also required companies to submit two months worth of safety data before filing for an emergency authorization.

"This is the greatest science experiment in vaccinology that's ever been done", Andrew Ward, a structural biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, told The Washington Post. He told Reuters, "The 94 percent protection for older people is key".

Other contenders in late-stage testing like AstraZeneca/Oxford University and Johnson & Johnson are using the traditional approach of injecting people with modified viruses to trigger an immune response. But they are ready to share the information with the FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world. The mRNA technology is created to transform the body's own cells into vaccine-making factories.

Vaccine development normally takes years and is often done by using dead or inactive parts of a virus.

Prof Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the full data would have to be submitted to bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for approval.

Sahin predicts many more mRNA-based vaccines and drugs to come, potentially transforming cancer treatments. Government officials anticipate having enough vaccine to inoculate about 20 million people with the two-dose regimen in the U.S.in December, between Pfizer's vaccine and a second shot likely to be considered for emergency authorization soon, from biotechnology company Moderna. The vaccine's two doses will be separated by a period of 21 days, with the first shot occurring on day zero. That means 35 million people could receive them by the end of 2020.

Health experts advising the USA government have recommended health-care workers treating Covid-19 patients be first, followed by those at high risk of infection like elderly in nursing homes and prisoners.

The UK has pre-ordered 40 million doses and should get 10 million by the end of the year.

The drugmaker said the efficacy of the vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE was consistent across age and ethnicity demographics, and that there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunization could be employed broadly around the world.

"Our work to deliver a safe and effective vaccine has never been more urgent", Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. These containers can also be used for storage by refilling with dry ice.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be kept at minus 70 degrees celsius, which will prove a headache for mass distribution, while the Moderna jab remains stable in the fridge for 30 days.

Moderna's vaccine needs to be stored at minus 20C for up to six months and kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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