Posted: Mon 9th Nov 2020

Vaccine breakthrough – First minister not tempted to say it’s “a magic bullet and coronavirus is about to disappear”

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

A vaccine candidate has been found to prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19 according to developers Pfizer and BioNTech.

The developers said the interim analysis was conducted after 94 participants in the trial developed COVID-19, examining how many of them received the vaccine versus a placebo.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said, “Today is a great day for science and humanity.”

News of the ‘breakthrough’ has sent stock markets soaring.

Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford welcomed the announcement from Pfizer and BioNTech but was cautious, he said, “you’ll need to read carefully what a particular competitor in this field says.”

Pfizer said it is, “continuing to accumulate safety data and currently estimate that a median of two months of safety data following the second (and final) dose of the vaccine candidate.”

The Phase 3 clinical trial of BNT162b2 began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 38,955 have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of November 8.

The trial will continue through the to final analysis when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued.

During today’s press briefing, we asked Mark Drakeford about the announcement from Pfizer, he said, “It is good news of course, if any of the vaccines in trial are making progress.”

“I think you’d always want to read carefully what a particular competitor in this field says on their own behalf.”

Mr Drakeford said he wasn’t “going to be tempted, as I’ve tried not to be tempted throughout coronavirus to suggest that this somehow means that there is a magic bullet on the horizon and coronavirus is about to disappear, out of our lives.”

“We will want to see the nature of any vaccine, how much protection it offers people for how long.”

“Of course, any vaccine that is emerging strongly from trials is to be welcomed because it will offer some new possibilities in the future.” He said.

It is understood that UK ordered 30 million doses – enough to cover 15 million people – of the Pfizer vaccine back in July with reports that up to 10 million doses could be supplied into the UK by the end of the year.

We also asked how vaccines will be shared out across the UK once they are deemed safe? The first minister said: “What has been agreed between the four nations is that the UK Government will lead on procurement of any vaccines.”

“I think they have placed orders for up to six potential vaccines that are in development.”

“As they either succeed or fail, they will secure those supplies on behalf of the United Kingdom.”

“I believe they’re likely to be shared across the United Kingdom on a population basis, so, the way the Barnett Formula works we will get our population share.” He said.

Mr Drakeford said that the storage and distribution of a vaccine is a “matter for the Welsh government to be in charge of, I know that a great deal of thought has gone on from very early in the summer.”

“Our chief medical officer put together a group of people months ago to make a plan for how we would deal with our responsibilities were a vaccine to materialise and be available here in Wales.

“Those plans will be stepped up as the realistic prospect of an actual vaccine strengthens.” He said.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said.

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

“I am happy to share with you that Pfizer and our collaborator, BioNTech, announced positive efficacy results from our Phase 3, late-stage study of our potential COVID-19 vaccine.”

“The vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis.”

“The results demonstrate that our mRNA-based vaccine can help prevent COVID-19 in the majority of people who receive it.”

“This means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global pandemic.”

In a separate clinical trial, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Public Health Wales have begun a study using another vaccine against COVID-19.

Health and Care Research Wales say the vaccine has “recently completed preliminary testing in humans, showing promising initial results on antibody levels in healthy volunteers and no serious safety concerns identified to date.”

The vaccine now requires testing on a large scale and a study involving 9000 people in around 18 regions across the UK is starting.

The study aims to recruit a representative sample from the entire population so most people will be suitable.

The study involves volunteers making six visits to the Wrexham Maelor Hospital site over approximately 13 months.

You can view today’s Welsh government press briefing below: 

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