More good news from Pfizer and BioNTech, its German partner in the race to produce a coronavirus vaccine: They're expecting to seek an emergency use OK from the Food and Drug Administration "within days," per a statement cited by CNN. That's due to a final analysis of their late-stage vaccine trials, which showed that the vaccine proved 95% effective, even in older age groups. This surpasses preliminary results reported last week showing a 90% efficacy rate. "Efficacy was consistent across age, race, and ethnicity demographics," the companies noted. "The observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%." The New York Times notes that latter fact is especially important, as older adults are more apt to suffer worse symptoms of COVID-19 and don't always respond well to certain vaccines.
The latest results emerged after 170 volunteers came down with COVID-19. Of that group of infected patients, 162 of them had gotten placebo shots; just eight of those infected had received the vaccine candidate. An independent group keeping tabs on possible side effects also has good news. "To date, the data monitoring committee for the study has not reported any serious safety concerns," the companies said in their statement, noting that fatigue emerged in a small percentage of cases. "The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic," Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla says in a statement, per the Times. (Pfizer is neck and neck with Moderna in the race to come up with a vaccine, and Moderna's may have a key edge.)