Pfizer says early data suggest its COVID vaccine works—in a big way. The company said Monday that its vaccine appears to be 90% effective in preventing infections, without serious side effects, reports the New York Times. A big qualification: These are early results, and the numbers could drop as the late-stage study continues. Still, the numbers are better than expected, and Stat News expects them "to be met with cautious excitement—and relief." Pfizer is on track to seek an emergency authorization from the FDA to produce the vaccine by the third week of November. By then, half of the 44,000 people in its study will have been monitored for two months after receiving a second dose. If all goes well, the company has said it could make enough doses to immunize up to 20 million people by the year's end.
“This is a historical moment,” Pfizer vaccine exec Kathrin Jansen tells the Times. "This was a devastating situation, a pandemic, and we have embarked on a path and a goal that nobody ever has achieved—to come up with a vaccine within a year." An effectiveness rate of 90% would put the vaccine in the league of other potent vaccines, such as the one for measles. Pfizer is developing its vaccine with the company BioNTech, and it is one of at least 10 candidates worldwide now in the latter stages of testing, per the AP. Another is from Moderna, and Pfizer's news bodes well for that one because they use similar methods, notes the Times. (Read more Pfizer stories.)