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November 11, 2020 - Large-scale clinical trials of an RNA coronavirus vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech show the vaccine is more than 90% effective and has no serious safety concerns.
Public health officials have welcomed the first successful preliminary results from a large-scale clinical test. However, mass roll-outs need regulatory approval -- Pfizer and BioNTech expect to seek U.S. emergency use authorization, raising the chance of a regulatory decision as soon as December.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which produces synthetic genes that instruct the human body to produce proteins that then develop protective antibodies.
The vaccine requires storage at minus 70 degrees celsius, requires distribution through expensive infrastructure, including deep-freeze airport warehouses and refrigerated vehicles.
Vaccination centres will receive boxes of 1,000 vials packed in dry ice -- the solid form of carbon dioxide. The shots must be thawed, stored in fridges at 2-8 degrees celsius and injected within a maximum of five days.
The European Union confirmed a request of up to 300 million doses on Tuesday. Pfizer already has orders from Japan, the U.S., Britain, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
The cost of distributing the Pfizer vaccine will likely heighten existing fears that wealthier nations will get the best vaccines first. Covax, a World Health Organization-led collective vaccine distribution regime, aims to raise $18 billion to purchase vaccines for poorer countries.
More than 140 drugmakers and research groups around the globe have been racing to develop vaccines against Covid-19, which exceeded 50 million cases on Sunday (November 8).