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Pfizer coronavirus vaccine news bodes well for other coronavirus vaccines, experts say

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about the latest data on the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Posted: Nov 9, 2020 11:06 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2020 11:15 PM


News that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine strongly protects people against infection is good news for other vaccines being developed against the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

Pfizer said its candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infection in volunteers. It uses a never-before-approved technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to produce an immune response in people who are vaccinated.

'This shows that the mRNA platform actually does work. And there's another vaccine candidate, Moderna, that's using the same platform,' Fauci told CNN in a telephone interview.

Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working with Moderna and other companies to test their experimental vaccines.

The US federal government has invested $1.95 billion in Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine but is not directly working to help its development.

The mRNA vaccine approach uses genetic material called mRNA to trick cells into producing bits of protein that look like pieces of the virus. The immune system learns to recognize and attack those bits and, in theory, would react fast to any actual infection.

'Really encouraged to see this exciting announcement. Assuming it's supported by the data then this not only represents a potential breakthrough for Pfizer/BioNTech, but also for vaccines in general,' vaccine expert Robin Shattock, whose team at Imperial College London is working on an mRNA vaccine against coronavirus, said in a statement.

'It also demonstrates the speed and utility of RNA vaccines technology,' Shattock added.

'This announcement certainly gives a boost to our own self-amplifying RNA vaccine program. Not yet the end game, but hopefully the beginning of global efforts to control this pandemic. A significant light at the end of the tunnel.'

There's a second reason the Pfizer results are good news for other vaccines. They show that using spike protein as a target was the right call, Fauci said.

'The other good thing about it is that an actual immune response to the spike protein is a protective response,' Fauci said.

The virus has a structure called the spike protein to grapple the cells it attacks. The mRNA vaccines make the body produce little copies of just that structure.

'Remember -- people were not sure that if you made an immune response against the spike protein that that's the best and most appropriate target for an actual vaccine,' Fauci added.

Targeting the spike

'The good news is that this is the spike protein target and virtually every one of the other vaccines that are being tested also use the spike protein as a target, whether it's expressed in mRNA or it's a soluble protein. The spike protein is used in all of them, which bodes well for all the other vaccines.'

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI also said the findings were a good sign for other vaccines in the pipeline. '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,' CEPI CEO Dr. Richard Hatchett said in a statement.

Four coronavirus vaccines are in advanced, Phase 3 trials in the US now. They are made by Pfizer, as well as Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Plus Maryland-based Novavax is expected to start a US-based Phase 3 trial later this month. It has a trial underway in Britain.

Pfizer got such a quick indication that its coronavirus vaccine is highly protective against infection in part because the pandemic is so bad, Fauci said.

The data was revealed as part of what's called an interim analysis. These are pre-planned peeks at the data.

In this case, Pfizer had planned to have a look as soon as 62 people in its 44,000 volunteer trial developed Covid-19 infections. But before the company could even finish discussing its plans with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it said, 94 people had become infected within a week of getting their second dose of either vaccine or placebo.

Pfizer's Data and Safety Monitoring Board -- an outside team of experts who watch the trial with a neutral eye -- unblinded the data and saw that more than 90% of those cases were in people who had gotten placebo, or dummy shots.

That's a reflection of both the large size of Pfizer's trial and the rate of infection across the United States, which just passed its 10 millionth diagnosed case, Fauci said.

'An answer depends on the size of the trial and how many infections there are in the community,' he said. It's not clear if all the cases used by Pfizer for its interim analysis were in the United States. The company is also testing the vaccine in Brazil, South Africa, Japan and other countries.

'This was a trial that was geared to 44,000 people and we are in the middle of a major surge right now. Those two things together make it much more likely that you'll get an answer quickly, which is what happened -- we got an answer quickly,' Fauci added.

Fauci said he expects Pfizer to apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization within about a week and a half. That will make it two months since volunteers got their second doses of vaccine. The FDA has asked vaccine makers for two months of safety data before they apply for authorization.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749532

Reported Deaths: 13746
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030911775
Lake554681006
Allen41636691
St. Joseph36947564
Hamilton36527416
Elkhart29363459
Tippecanoe22862225
Vanderburgh22542400
Porter19331325
Johnson18405388
Hendricks17588317
Clark13200193
Madison13120344
Vigo12604253
LaPorte12394221
Monroe12163175
Delaware10947198
Howard10263225
Kosciusko9614119
Hancock8549144
Bartholomew8162157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7772180
Grant7229179
Wayne7155201
Boone6917103
Morgan6736141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6206116
Cass5991108
Henry5894108
Dearborn588978
Noble580186
Jackson508674
Shelby500897
Lawrence4732121
Gibson444093
Harrison440773
Clinton440055
DeKalb438785
Montgomery434690
Whitley406042
Huntington402281
Steuben399259
Miami392768
Jasper386954
Knox375790
Putnam372160
Wabash360583
Ripley346570
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White330253
Daviess3031100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284864
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269955
Clay265848
Washington244934
Randolph244683
Jennings235149
Spencer234231
Starke227558
Fountain218647
Sullivan213943
Owen211058
Fulton201542
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175726
Vermillion173644
Franklin170235
Tipton165846
Parke149016
Pike138034
Blackford136132
Pulaski120247
Newton112736
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton101014
Martin91515
Warren83615
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107225

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1285061459
Cuyahoga1156322204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524951040
Summit48356999
Lucas43309817
Butler38903603
Stark33297929
Lorain25641502
Warren24558303
Mahoning22332601
Lake21139385
Clermont20098252
Delaware18819135
Licking16649222
Fairfield16564204
Trumbull16527479
Medina15597270
Greene15256246
Clark14223306
Wood13281197
Portage13229214
Allen11903239
Richland11598211
Miami10837223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9023230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8652122
Tuscarawas8639247
Marion8635138
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7139179
Hancock6996131
Ross6934161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6530104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5723102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5437125
Darke5415129
Seneca5344126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501687
Mercer487285
Shelby476295
Knox4568112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4334103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387377
Preble3847103
Clinton378566
Ottawa372781
Highland359465
Williams347878
Champaign343858
Guernsey324253
Jackson317554
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285350
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268459
Van Wert247264
Adams242956
Pike242735
Gallia240550
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196948
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113738
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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