Virus Outbreak-Vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla long has said it’s possible that testing might reveal by the end of October if his company’s vaccine protects against the coronavirus. But, in Friday’s announcement, he made it clear that effectiveness is only part of the equation.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

NEW YORK — Pfizer cannot request emergency authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine before the third week of November — and that is if everything goes well, the company’s CEO announced Friday.

Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated promises of a vaccine before Election Day, scientists have been cautioning that it’s unlikely that data showing a leading shot actually works would come until November or December.

Another leading U.S. contender, Moderna, previously announced that the earliest it could seek authorization of its own vaccine would be Nov. 25.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla long has said it’s possible that testing might reveal by the end of October if his company’s vaccine protects against the coronavirus. But, in Friday’s announcement, he made it clear that effectiveness is only part of the equation.

The vaccine also must be proved safe. And to qualify for an “emergency use authorization,” any COVID-19 vaccine must track at least half the participants in large-scale studies for two months after their second dose, the time period in which side effects likely are to appear.

Bourla estimated that Pfizer’s 44,000-person study will reach that milestone in the third week of November.

“We are operating at the speed of science,” he wrote in a letter posted to the company’s website.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, are among several leading candidates in final testing.

Even if a vaccine emerges by year’s end, only limited doses will be available right away. The U.S. government is deciding who would be first in line, almost certainly health care workers, and estimates that there might be enough for widespread vaccinations in the spring.


TALK TO US

If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.