Posted on 12 November 2020
Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: At present, coronavirus has afflicted over 50 million people in 190 countries, killing over 1.2 million. This pandemic causing virus has had far reaching consequences by impacting our global economy, bringing our day-to-day lives to halt, and harming the health and wellbeing of countless individuals worldwide. The only way to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic and return to normalcy is by having an effective vaccine for SAR-CoV-2.
More than 234 vaccines are being developed globally for COVID-19. 57 of these vaccines are being tested in clinical trials on humans, and at least 155 are being tested in preclinical experiments. Vaccines from 11 companies, including the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, are in the final phase (Phase 3) of their human clinical trials.
What did the researchers do: Pfizer and BioNTech announced in mid-March this year that they will be jointly developing a vaccine for COVID-19, and that this vaccine will use the novel mRNA (messenger RNA) technology. The therapeutic use of mRNA technology originated as a cancer treatment, specifically injecting genetic instructions into the body that told cells to make viral proteins that prime the immune system.
After early human trials (Phase 1) the company announced in September that they will be undertaking the final trial in 44,000 participants from United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany. This Phase 3 (final stage) trial in humans is a 1:1 randomized placebo controlled trial, which means that 22,000 people would be given a placebo, while the other 22,000 participants get the mRNA vaccine. Finally, the FDA agreed that they would stop the trial to review the data once 164-cases of COVID-19 occurred among the 44,000 participants. The FDA also agreed to take a preliminary look at the data after 64, 92, and 120 cases of COVID-19 were reported.
Therefore, after having 94 cases of COVID-19 among the participants Pfizer and BioNTech examined the data and reported that their mRNA vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: