An update on the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

Finn Witham, Reporter

As Covid-19 has already taken 1.5 million lives and counting and case counts rise across the world, a new hope is on the horizon. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, has developed a Covid-19 vaccine that has been approved for widespread use by both the United Kingdom and Canada. BBC reports that Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are set to meet on Thursday to review whether or not the United States should authorize the vaccine’s use. The FDA has already said that the vaccine is 95% effective and safe for use. 

The Pfizer vaccine, unlike common influenza vaccines, requires two doses spaced 20 days apart. It is an mRNA vaccine which means that the vaccine causes cells to code for and make viral proteins, which the body then develops antibodies for. This is a faster method than that used in other vaccines (like those targeting influenza), which involve growing and deactivating the virus. 

CNBC reports that some participants in initial trials report Covid-19 symptoms after the second dose, which Pfizer has acknowledged is a possibility. However, it is impossible to contract Covid-19 from the vaccine, as it is not injecting a live virus. Yasir Batalvi, a participant in the trials, told CNBC that he “started feeling fatigued and like anyone would feel if they were coming down with the flu” but that he’s glad to participate in the opportunity and the vaccine is important in saving lives and stopping the pandemic. 

The vaccine costs about $20 per dose, and the United States has already secured 100 million doses, enough to vaccinate 50 million people. However, experts note that to achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated. That would mean the United States needs 362 million more doses on top of the 100 million to reach herd immunity. According to Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, President Trump declined the companies offer to purchase more doses. 

Americans will still have to wait for FDA approval and the implementation of a vaccine rollout plan to get vaccinated against Covid-19. However, we can all be relieved that the beginning of the end of this pandemic is finally in sight.