Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.44 9 Nov 2020


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The results of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine trial could 'bode very well' for some other vaccines in development, Professor Luke O'Neill has said.

The leading immunologist says we still need to see the company's data - but their claims about the vaccine's effectiveness are "remarkable".

After months of large-scale trials, Pfizer and German firm BioNTech released a statement saying their initial data shows their coronavirus vaccine candidate is 90% effective with no evidence of side effects

While over 40 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development - including nearly a dozen in critical phase three trials - today's announcement offers the first major update on possible efficacy.

The vaccine trial - which has involved over 40,000 participants - will continue, with Pfizer now planning to submit their findings to regulators later this month.

Professor O'Neill told Newstalk that scientists have been eagerly awaiting the initial findings of vaccine trials.

He said: "We've been waiting for this, all on tenterhooks. It's a press release from a company, so a slight caveat there.

"The next phase now is the safety - they're going to finally assess the safety as well.

"If all this is true, it is absolutely remarkable - it means the Pfizer vaccine is remarkably efficacious.

"It would bode very well for other vaccines... the Moderna vaccine, for example, is similar."

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates are mRNA-based - an approach using genetic material which is a new development for human vaccine trials.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan this evening said it's still early days for vaccine development, and officials are hopeful that European regulators will soon see the necessary data.

He observed: "Obviously if these [findings] are borne out when we see the regulatory data and scientific publications, that's the kind of thing we'll want to be seeing.

"It's hopeful, but certainly not a time for celebration."


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