Pfizer and Biotech: One Step Closer to a Vaccine


Natalie Abrahantes

Pzifer and BioNTech have shared promising results in updates on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Massimo Aguila, CavsConnect Staff

A vaccine against COVID-19 may be the only solution to this pandemic and it seems that the United States pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer are one step closer to distributing one. Despite resurging numbers of cases, these potential vaccines being developed have performed with high rates of efficiency and might therefore be distributed once clearance is received from the federal health agencies.

Pfizer and BioNTech are the two publicly traded large pharmaceutical companies leading the search for a vaccine that have recently shared promising results. BNT162b2, the placeholder name, is a vaccine that has been shown to be upwards of 95 percent effective against COVID-19 28 days after the first dose, as stated in the companies’ press release.

The efficacy of the vaccine was said to be consistent across age, gender, race and ethnic demographics. The pandemic has disproportionately affected and killed those over the age of 65, but this vaccine is found to be more than 94 percent effective among older age groups.

These pharmaceutical companies are now seeking Food and Drug Administration emergency approval, which would make it the first to receive regulatory clearance for a COVID-19 vaccine. The Emergency Use Authorization allows their product to be administered nationally before all sufficient evidence is present for a full approval.

I, like most, believe the elderly and young children will probably be top priority for the COVID-19 vaccine since they are the most susceptible to it and will therefore receive it as soon as the vaccine is available. As more doses are created, however, everyone will probably be able to get it,

— sophomore Edghlys Lopez

In order to issue the EAU, the FDA will look at whether a product’s “known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.” If approval is attained, according to Dr. Barbara Alexander, president of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, “new federal funding must be provided for widespread, fair and equitable vaccine distribution in addition to campaigns to build vaccine confidence.”

“The FDA will most likely be quicker than normal in reviewing the potential vaccines in order to expedite the distribution process to the hardest hit demographic of the nation; which includes the elderly and predisposed. The FDA should be thorough but fast in its review, with the same amount of procedure in order to prevent any future problems,” sophomore Justin Bohanan said.

The vaccine works by exposing the body to a form of the virus in order to allow the immune system to learn how to combat it in the future. Multiple doses means the body needs an added exposure to the virus in order to be effective against it later. The FDA says multiple doses to produce the antibodies for a virus is common. Pfizer and BioNTech are expecting to produce around 50 million of these doses by the end of 2020 and over 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Each individual does require two doses of the vaccine in order for it to be effective against COVID-19.

In the meantime, cases continue to rise across the country in states like California, New York, Texas and Florida. Some of these heavily affected states are issuing stricter lockdown laws which include small-business shutdowns. These shutdowns also include mask mandates that extend to outside usage although there are no CDC guidelines on this type of outside mask wearing. These lockdowns can lead to economic damage, mainly to small businesses and families, but the vaccine may change all that by eliminating the need for lockdowns.

A vaccine could also indicate a return from My School Online back to physical learning in schools such as Coral Gables Senior High, once it becomes readily available for students. It is unclear whether the vaccine will eliminate the need for masks entirely, and when exactly, masks, along with other Center for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines will cease to be required. The FDA is looking into granting this EAU to Pfizer and BioNTech, but there is hope surrounding the vaccine.