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Well done Pfizer: today is a great day for science and humanity

Good news on COVAX, Bad News on COVID upsurge

Health workers on breaking point, warns Dr Tedros

By B N KUMAR

“We must avoid putting them (health workers) into situation where they have to make impossible choices about who gets care and who doesn’t,” WHO DG said

MUMBAI, Nov 17 (BNC Network) - Expressing cautious optimism over the recent developments on CIVID vaccine front, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the quickest way to open up economies is to defeat the virus.

“While we continue to receive encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines and remain cautiously optimistic about the potential for new tools to start to arrive in the coming months,” said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Right now, he said, “we are extremely concerned by the surge in cases we’re seeing in some countries.” “Particularly in Europe and the Americas, health workers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point,” he said addressing the global media during a virtual conference yesterday.

WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan welcomed the reports that nRNA based vaccines have shown encouraging results.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE announced their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, against SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated evidence of efficacy against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, based on the first interim efficacy analysis conducted on November 8, 2020 by an external, independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) from the Phase 3 clinical study.

The case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at 7 days after the second dose. This means that protection is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a 2-dose schedule. As the study continues, the final vaccine efficacy percentage may vary. The DMC has not reported any serious safety concerns and recommends that the study continue to collect additional safety and efficacy data as planned. The data will be discussed with regulatory authorities worldwide.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”

Moderna, Inc. a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, also announced that the independent, NIH-appointed Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for the Phase 3 study of mRNA-1273, its vaccine candidate against COVID-19, has informed Moderna that the trial has met the statistical criteria pre-specified in the study protocol for efficacy, with a vaccine efficacy of 94.5%.

This study, known as the COVE study, enrolled more than 30,000 participants in the U.S. and is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, the WHO expressed its concern at the new surge of COVID cases and said: This is a dangerous virus, which can attack every system in the body.

Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire.

“First, there will be further needless deaths and suffering. Second, as we featured two weeks ago in a press conference, we are seeing a significant number of people experiencing long-term effects of the virus. Third, health workers in particular are facing extreme mental health pressure and cases are severely burdening health systems in too many countries,” Dr Tedros said in a painstaking explanation. 

Health workers went into medicine to save lives as you know, he said and pointed out that “We must avoid putting them into situation where they have to make impossible choices about who gets care and who doesn’t.”

There is no excuse for inaction. My message is very clear: act fast, act now, act decisively. A laissez-faire attitude to the virus – not using the full range of tools available – leads to death, suffering and hurts livelihoods and economies, Dr Tedors said and added:  “It’s not a choice between lives or livelihoods.”

 

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