Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is still 91% effective six months after the second dose, the ongoing trial shows, and it is highly effective against the stronger South African variant, the company said Thursday.
Since inoculating volunteers with their COVID-19 vaccine over the summer as part of the clinical trials, Pfizer has continued to monitor 12,000 patients to see how the vaccine holds up. In the six months since, the vaccine is still highly effective and is preventing COVID-19 illness 91.3% of the time, a promising sign that the end of the pandemic could be near.
The ongoing trial also indicates that the vaccine is effective against the highly contagious B.1.351 strain that first emerged in South Africa and has since been found in the U.S. In the U.S. Pfizer trial, the company said that six cases of the strain were found, but none were in people who were vaccinated, only those who were given the placebo.
"It is an important step to further confirm the strong efficacy and good safety data we have seen so far," Ugur Sahin, CEO and cofounder of BioNTech, said in a statement. "These data also provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against currently circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population."
The news comes one day after Pfizer announced that its vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in kids aged 12 to 15. The company tested the vaccine on 2,260 study participants, half of whom received the vaccine, and the others a placebo. Eighteen kids in the placebo group contracted COVID-19, but none in the vaccine group.
The promising results mean that adolescents could be vaccinated in time for the next school year.
"We plan to submit these data to FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year," Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
As of April 1, nearly a third of the U.S. population, 97,593,290 people, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control says. Of that group, 16.4%, or 54,607,041 people, are fully vaccinated against the virus.
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