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Here is what experts are saying about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine success

Pfizer said on Monday its experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study, a major victory in the fight against the pandemic.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

Following are reactions to the news.

LUCIO ROVATI, CEO OF ITALY’S ROTTAPHARM BIOTECH, WHICH IS WORKING WITH TAKIS BIOTECH ON A COVID-19 VACCINE

“This is important news. Nothing that was not expected. Anyway, great, great. The problem remains that the data is limited in duration, 28 days after the first inoculation. The problem will be to see how long the coverage lasts. But in any case it is already very important to know that there is an effective vaccine, also because it seems a vaccine well tolerated in the medium term. At the end of November data at two months will be available, as required by regulatory agencies, and so at the end of November (the vaccine) could already be approved.”

CLEMENS WENDTNER, CHIEF PHYSICIAN OF INFECTIOLOGY AND TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HEAD OF THE SPECIAL UNIT FOR HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS LIFE-THREATENING INFECTIONS, MUNICH SCHWABING CLINIC, GERMANY

“This is remarkable, as many ongoing vaccination studies on COVID-19 currently only assume a success rate of at least 50%. In addition, it should be emphasized that a sharp end point has been defined – infection yes or no. Alternatively, with less high expectations of a vaccine, already attenuated disease courses, so-called mitigated courses, could be considered a success. In addition, the mRNA vaccination appears to be effective after only four weeks, which means that one does not have to wait long for protection.”

WALID GELLAD, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, UNITED STATES

“This is a hint that these mRNA vaccines are likely to work, and there’s at least one other. And they’re likely to be safe, at least from this trial. So that’s highly encouraging. The other thing that’s highly encouraging is that science can now create a vaccine in a relatively short amount of time and test it, which gives a lot of hope for the future when these things happen again.”

ITALIAN HEALTH MINISTER ROBERTO SPERANZA

“Today’s news about the anti-COVID vaccine is encouraging. But caution is still needed. Scientific research is the real key to overcoming the emergency. In the meantime, we must never forget that the behaviour of each of us is essential to bend the curve.”

QUENTIN VIVANT, SPOKESMAN FOR FRENCH DRUGMAKER SANOFI

“Congratulations to our Pfizer colleagues. We feel energized to move on and bring more vaccines to the world to fight against this pandemic.”

ANDREW HILL, SENIOR VISITING RESEARCH FELLOW IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PHARMACOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL, BRITAIN

“This vaccine needs to be stored at -80c. This could create major logistical challenges for mass treatment outside major urban areas and in low or middle income countries.”

“However, overall this is a huge step forwards in the fight against COVID-19. We will need to see whether updated versions of this vaccine are needed to protect people against new strains of the virus which might emerge in future.”

RICHARD HATCHETT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE CEPI COALITION FOR EPIDEMIC PREPAREDNESS INNOVATIONS

“These are hugely positive and encouraging interim results and are testament to the ingenuity and skill of the scientific community in advancing vaccine candidates against COVID-19. We commend Pfizer/BioNTech on this historic interim result and the speed at which they have advanced through clinical development.

“We believe these interim results also increase the probability of success of other COVID-19 candidate vaccines which use a similar approach [pre-fusion spike as their immunogen], including all of the vaccines in the CEPI portfolio.”

PETER HORBY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, BRITAIN

“This news made me smile from ear to ear. It is a relief to see such positive results on this vaccine and bodes well for COVID-19 vaccines in general.

“Of course we need to see more detail and await the final results, and there is a long, long way to go before vaccines will start to make a real difference, but this feels to me like a watershed moment.”

ELEANOR RILEY, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH, BRITAIN

“At face value, this is exceptionally good news: a vaccine that is 90% effective at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and with millions of doses available by the end of the year.

“However, the full data set on which the claim is based has not yet been released and so we don’t know exactly what has been found.”

LAWRENCE YOUNG, PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR ONCOLOGY AT UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK, BRITAIN

“It’s hard to interpret the interim analysis, but it does appear very encouraging.”

“In this… preliminary analysis there is a significant reduction in the COVID-19, and I interpret that to mean that … individuals are not developing disease, but it doesn’t tell us anything about whether people are getting infected or not.”

RUSSELL SILBERTSON, CO-HEAD OF DEVELOPED MARKET FX & RATES AT ASSET MANAGER NINETY ONE

“If the bearish view embedded in markets was that there was no effective vaccine any time soon priced in, clearly that needs significant repricing now.

“You couple (this morning’s news) with the sheer weight of all the stimulus in markets, and that’s a very strong economic upside scenario.”

NIKESH PATEL, HEAD OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY, KEMPEN CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LONDON

“This is the first news that allows governments to start planning ahead to when economies can properly start to reopen from lockdowns. That gives them more visibility and concreteness about what fiscal policy they can take.

“Monetary policy can only go so far at this point and it needs to be a fiscal response for a real recovery and this kind of news is great as it allows governments to make that fiscal response without fear of endless support.”

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