End of fight against COVID still months away: Joe Biden

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said that Pfizer’s announcement that a Covid-19 vaccine it was developing was 90 per cent effective, offered cause for hope but warned that the battle ahead was still long.

In a statement, Biden said: “Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant men and women who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.”

The President-elect also cautioned that even if vaccine approval was achieved, and some Americans were vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is a widespread vaccination in the country.

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“That is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality. Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact,” said Biden.

He further added that America was still losing over 1,000 people every day from the virus, which will continue to get worse unless progress has been made on masking and other immediate actions.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by drug giant American Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech was more than 90 per cent effective at protecting people from infection as compared to placebo saline shot, according to an analysis, which was regarded as a ‘historical moment’ by Kathrin Jensen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.

The analysis on Pfizer’s vaccine progress was conducted by an independent data monitoring committee that met Sunday.

Pfizer has conducted a 44,000-person trial. Among them, there have been so far 94 cases of COVID-19 in persons who were not previously infected. Fewer than nine of those cases were among people who received two shots of the vaccine, a strong signal of efficacy.

The vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. Pfizer and BioNTech are working around-the-clock to scale up production, in hopes of having 50 million doses — enough for 25 million people to receive both shots — by the end of the year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The trial will continue until it reaches its endpoint of 164 cases of COVID-19, which Jansen said could take a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the US on Monday surpassed 10 million cases of coronavirus, according to an update by the Johns Hopkins University.

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