11 million cases, 246,224 deaths
885,201 cases, 51,900 total hospitalizations, 17,518 deaths
94,420 cases, 6,439 total hospitalizations, 1,591 deaths
- There were 41,304 new coronavirus cases in Florida last week.
- There was an average of 5,900 daily new cases over the last week.
Pfizer and BioNTech Pharmaceutical Companies Announce COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
The availability of a vaccine candidate against Covid-19 is wonderful news for Americans, and for the world. Preliminary results from the companies suggest that the vaccine is 90% effective against coronavirus. These are only preliminary results though, and we will need more time and clinical studies to fully assess the vaccine’s effectiveness. These are some important items to note:
- In July, Pfizer and BioNTech enrolled 43,585 participants in a late-stage clinical trial of their vaccine candidate. Half of the study participants received the vaccine; the other half received a salt-water placebo.
- 94 of the study participants became ill with Covid-19. An independent board of experts reviewed the data and found that of the 94 who were sickened with Covid-19, only about 10 had received the vaccine. This suggests that the other 84 candidates had received the placebo and therefore had no protection from the virus. From this preliminary result, it was inferred that the vaccine protected 90% of participants who had received the vaccine.
- This also suggests that 10% of the individuals who received the vaccine still contracted coronavirus. It is important to note however, that a normal flu vaccine is usually 40-60% effective. That means that an average of 50% of individuals who take the flu vaccine may contract the flu, particularly in a year where the vaccine has low efficacy. Still, 50% protection is vastly better than no protection at all, and if the coronavirus vaccine results bear out over time, within the larger population, then a 90% efficacy will be an astounding achievement for science and a potent weapon against this pandemic.
- The vaccine appears to be safe. There have been no reports of safety issues during the clinical trial.
- The vaccine will not be immediately available to the general public. Priority will be given to health care workers and high-risk groups such as the elderly. Pfizer and BioNTech say they can produce 30-40 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year, which means that 15-20 million individuals will be able to receive an initial shot and a booster three weeks later.
- It is estimated that the vaccine will be available to the general public by the spring of 2021.
- Disease control measures – wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene must remain in force. Even with the availability of a vaccine, some may still contract the virus and develop serious illness. A vaccine is only one part of the arsenal against this pandemic.
- The pandemic will grow more deadly as winter approaches and colder weather push more people indoors for longer periods of time. While the world awaits the vaccine, it is critical that we maintain vigilance against this virus. As always, disease control efforts are critical for protection against infection:
- Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Wear a mask when out and about in public.
- Practice good hand hygiene.
- Avoid crowded indoor locations, wherever possible. Outside activities are safer than indoor activities.
For more information oncoronavirus (COVID-19) prevent-ion, visit www.FloridaHealth.org; coronavirus.jhu.edu; nytimes.com