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Pfizer coronavirus vaccine news bodes well for other coronavirus vaccines, experts say

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about the latest data on the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Posted: Nov 9, 2020 10:00 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2020 10:15 PM


News that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine strongly protects people against infection is good news for other vaccines being developed against the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

Pfizer said its candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infection in volunteers. It uses a never-before-approved technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to produce an immune response in people who are vaccinated.

'This shows that the mRNA platform actually does work. And there's another vaccine candidate, Moderna, that's using the same platform,' Fauci told CNN in a telephone interview.

Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working with Moderna and other companies to test their experimental vaccines.

The US federal government has invested $1.95 billion in Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine but is not directly working to help its development.

The mRNA vaccine approach uses genetic material called mRNA to trick cells into producing bits of protein that look like pieces of the virus. The immune system learns to recognize and attack those bits and, in theory, would react fast to any actual infection.

'Really encouraged to see this exciting announcement. Assuming it's supported by the data then this not only represents a potential breakthrough for Pfizer/BioNTech, but also for vaccines in general,' vaccine expert Robin Shattock, whose team at Imperial College London is working on an mRNA vaccine against coronavirus, said in a statement.

'It also demonstrates the speed and utility of RNA vaccines technology,' Shattock added.

'This announcement certainly gives a boost to our own self-amplifying RNA vaccine program. Not yet the end game, but hopefully the beginning of global efforts to control this pandemic. A significant light at the end of the tunnel.'

There's a second reason the Pfizer results are good news for other vaccines. They show that using spike protein as a target was the right call, Fauci said.

'The other good thing about it is that an actual immune response to the spike protein is a protective response,' Fauci said.

The virus has a structure called the spike protein to grapple the cells it attacks. The mRNA vaccines make the body produce little copies of just that structure.

'Remember -- people were not sure that if you made an immune response against the spike protein that that's the best and most appropriate target for an actual vaccine,' Fauci added.

Targeting the spike

'The good news is that this is the spike protein target and virtually every one of the other vaccines that are being tested also use the spike protein as a target, whether it's expressed in mRNA or it's a soluble protein. The spike protein is used in all of them, which bodes well for all the other vaccines.'

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI also said the findings were a good sign for other vaccines in the pipeline. 'We believe these interim results also increase the probability of success of other Covid-19 candidate vaccines which use a similar approach [pre-fusion spike as their immunogen], including all of the vaccines in the CEPI portfolio,' CEPI CEO Dr. Richard Hatchett said in a statement.

Four coronavirus vaccines are in advanced, Phase 3 trials in the US now. They are made by Pfizer, as well as Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Plus Maryland-based Novavax is expected to start a US-based Phase 3 trial later this month. It has a trial underway in Britain.

Pfizer got such a quick indication that its coronavirus vaccine is highly protective against infection in part because the pandemic is so bad, Fauci said.

The data was revealed as part of what's called an interim analysis. These are pre-planned peeks at the data.

In this case, Pfizer had planned to have a look as soon as 62 people in its 44,000 volunteer trial developed Covid-19 infections. But before the company could even finish discussing its plans with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it said, 94 people had become infected within a week of getting their second dose of either vaccine or placebo.

Pfizer's Data and Safety Monitoring Board -- an outside team of experts who watch the trial with a neutral eye -- unblinded the data and saw that more than 90% of those cases were in people who had gotten placebo, or dummy shots.

That's a reflection of both the large size of Pfizer's trial and the rate of infection across the United States, which just passed its 10 millionth diagnosed case, Fauci said.

'An answer depends on the size of the trial and how many infections there are in the community,' he said. It's not clear if all the cases used by Pfizer for its interim analysis were in the United States. The company is also testing the vaccine in Brazil, South Africa, Japan and other countries.

'This was a trial that was geared to 44,000 people and we are in the middle of a major surge right now. Those two things together make it much more likely that you'll get an answer quickly, which is what happened -- we got an answer quickly,' Fauci added.

Fauci said he expects Pfizer to apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization within about a week and a half. That will make it two months since volunteers got their second doses of vaccine. The FDA has asked vaccine makers for two months of safety data before they apply for authorization.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 266598

Reported Deaths: 5852
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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