The Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer has been shown to be 91.3 percent effective against infection even after six months according to findings released by the company.
The findings come from a growing body of data on how volunteers in the shot’s late-stage trials are responding to the vaccine. The data determined whether or not the volunteers contracted Covid with or without symptoms. That the vaccine still proved to be so effective after six months is an excellent sign it may last even longer.
Pfizer said it hopes to provide more information on protection beyond six months in the coming weeks. The companies said they planned to continue to monitor study subjects for two years. Some vaccines, such as the one for measles, provide lifelong immunity while others, such as for the flu, need to be given every year.
The further analysis suggested the vaccine worked effectively against a variant first identified in South Africa, Pfizer and BioNTech said. And the companies said they haven’t found serious safety concerns so far.
“It is an important step to further confirm the strong efficacy and good safety data we have seen so far, especially in a longer-term follow-up,” said BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin.
What makes this finding so significant is that the Pfizer vaccine uses a new gene-based technology, named messenger DNA, that could have practical uses in fighting other diseases. The process of creating proteins that teach the body to recognize the virus and produce antibodies to destroy it can be used in other gene-based therapies.
Of the 927 cases of symptomatic Covid-19 observed through March 13, 850 were in people who received a placebo and 77 in people who were vaccinated, according to the companies.
That corresponds to a vaccine efficacy of 91.3% up to six months after getting the second dose, Pfizer and BioNTech said.
The protection remained generally consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity, as well as among individuals with underlying health conditions, the companies said.
It’s important to discover how long these vaccines can maintain their potency. Is it possible that they would work like a measles vaccine and last a lifetime? Or will it be more like a flu vaccine where a patient would need a yearly shot? If the vaccine needs a yearly dose to be effective, some future vaccines might not.
No word on how the Russian and Chinese vaccines — Sputnik 5 and Sinovac respectively — perform over time. The question is, will we be able to trust the data that comes out of Moscow and Beijing?