We’ll want a couple of vaccine to beat the pandemic

Close-up photograph of a gloved hand holding a tiny bottle of clear liquid.

Enlarge / A medical employee holds a bottle of a candidate COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford College that’s being examined in a trial in Soweto, South Africa. (credit score: Getty | Gallo Pictures)

On Monday, a press launch from the transnational pharmaceutical firm Pfizer dropped a uncommon spark of hope into the continued distress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, new infections have hit an all-time excessive in the US, and, sure, cities and states around the globe are strolling again their reopenings. However Pfizer says it has outcomes from a large medical trial exhibiting that its vaccine in opposition to the illness works, and works nicely. The discharge touted “a vaccine efficacy fee above 90 p.c,” and it introduced the corporate’s intention to hunt from the US Meals and Drug Administration an authorization to start out giving folks pictures. The corporate’s able to make 50 million doses this yr and 1.three billion doses in 2021.

That’s an ember of hope, however it’s sitting below a bucket of chilly water, able to pour. The Pfizer vaccine is finicky—onerous to make, transport, and ship. Due to determined want, it’s in brief provide even earlier than it turns into accessible—1.three billion doses is a number of billion wanting what the world wants. The press launch wasn’t peer-reviewed science, and it lacked important particulars about how the vaccine works and on whom. Even the straightforward truth of this vaccine’s existence, some analysts have argued, may jeopardize the testing and success of probably higher vaccines down the road, a case of the imperfect being the enemy of the nice.

Earlier than the ember dies out fully, right here’s a principle: no. The Pfizer vaccine’s imperfections make it an ideal prime mover, as a result of if it really works in addition to the corporate says, it’ll assist folks now and require analysis into extra, higher, totally different vaccines for later. All of the issues no one is aware of concerning the Pfizer vaccine imply that the door is broad open. “Whether or not its results are sturdy, whether or not it’s efficient within the aged, whether or not it has questions of safety, the chilly chain points, the flexibility to have entry,” says Wayne Koff, president and CEO of the nonprofit Human Vaccines Undertaking, “all that factors to the necessity for various vaccines.”

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