Shares in BioNTech surged as much as 16% on Monday as the German biotech company reported bumper second-quarter earnings and upped projections for vaccine demand.
The stock climbed as high as $452 – an all-time high – as investors digested the good news. BioNTech has been on a tear in recent weeks, buoyed by the resurgent Delta variant and global vaccine demand for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
“To address the ongoing pandemic, we are expanding the supply of our COVID-19 vaccine to more than 100 countries and regions worldwide,” BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin said in a statement.
BioNTech’s explosive growth during the pandemic has led to eye-popping earnings numbers. Revenues in the second quarter came in 127 times larger than the same period in 2020. The company went from losing money in Q2 last year to turning a €2.8 billion profit this year.
The company announced it had signed contracts for more than 2.2 billion doses of its vaccine this year, and said it expects to reap €15.9 billion in revenue from vaccine delivery. That is up from an earlier forecast in May of €12.4 billion.
Vaccine demand is likely to persist well into next year, the company said, with more than a billion doses still left to be delivered in 2022 and beyond.
Emerging markets and frontier economies have been significantly slower to vaccinate than advanced economies, in part because of insufficient supply. While 30% of the world has got at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that number is only 1% for low-income nations.
Israel will start offering booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to its older citizens on Sunday, as health officials described new data showing a decline in the vaccine’s protection against severe disease over time.
A key unknown with the COVID-19 vaccine is how long protection will last. The emergence and spread of the Delta variant has intensified that uncertainty, with the variant showing the ability to partially evade the vaccine’s protection.
In response to the latest data, Israel is offering a third dose of the vaccine to its citizens who are 60 and older and at least five months removed from their second shot. Other countries are also considering if and when to roll out booster shots. Israel had already begun offering booster shots to some people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients.
There has been a trickle of studies in recent weeks suggesting protection from Pfizer’s vaccine starts to wane after several months. Israel’s decision was motivated by signals of decreased efficacy, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In particular, one Israeli scientist said the country had data showing the vaccine’s protection against severe illness among this 60-plus age group dropped from 97% in April to 81% in July. Those results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or posted on a preprint server.
Eric Topol, the director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said on Twitter that if these results held up, they would be “the first sign of a significant dropdown of protection against hospitalizations and death for these vaccines.”
“I hope all of the data will be shared ASAP as the implications are big,” he tweeted.
Pfizer presented more results on Wednesday supporting the company’s stance that boosters would be needed six to 12 months after initial vaccination. Laboratory testing by Pfizer showed neutralizing antibodies, a key part of the immune response, significantly declined eight months after the second dose of its vaccine among all age groups.
The New York drugmaking giant also posted new, detailed results from its clinical trial that enrolled more than 40,000 volunteers. Longer-term follow-up showed the vaccine’s ability to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 cases, regardless of severity, dipped to 84% starting four months after the second dose, compared with 96% efficacy in the first two months.
The vaccine’s overall efficacy against severe disease in that study was 97%, with 30 cases occurring among people who received placebo shots and one case in a person who got the vaccine.
Pfizer’s findings have also yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, and the company said it would submit an application to US regulators in August to begin offering booster shots.
The data for how well COVID-19 vaccines work against the Delta variant isn’t clear cut.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday, July 6, that COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca worked well against severe COVID-19 caused by Delta, in comparison to other variants. But the vaccines may offer less protection against symptomatic illness – rather than severe disease – caused by Delta compared to other variants, it said.
Here’s how much protection COVID-19 vaccines give you against symptomatic Delta infections, based on the best available data from four studies.
A UK-based study from May found that two doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer’s vaccine were highly effective against the Delta variant, from two weeks after the second dose.
33% effective after one dose, 88% effective after two.
33% effective after one dose, 60% effective after two.
Canadian study: Pfizer 87% effective after two doses, Moderna 72% after one dose
A Canadian study posted on Saturday, July 3, found that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine worked as well against Delta as they did against the Alpha variant, which was previously dominant in the US.
The study hasn’t been scrutinized by experts in a peer-review.
56% effective from 14 days after first dose, 87% effective after two doses.
67% effective from 14 days after first dose. Not enough data for two doses.
72% effective from 14 days after first dose. Not enough data for two doses.
Israel study: Pfizer 64% effective after two doses
The Israel Ministry of Health said on Monday, July 6, that Pfizer’s vaccine worked slightly less well against the Delta variant than previous estimates. The number of people who got infected during the study period was small, and the figure may have included asymptomatic infections.
64% effective after two doses.
Scotland study: Pfizer 79% effective after two doses, 60% for AstraZeneca.
A Scotland-based study published as a letter to the Lancet medical journal on June 14 found that Pfizer’s vaccine offered “very good” protection against the Delta variant.
79% effective after two doses, at least 14 days after the second dose.
60% effective after two doses, at least 14 days after the second dose.
Why the numbers vary
Percentage efficacy for vaccines is the proportion of people that get full protection after a vaccine. With 80% efficacy, 80% of people have full protection, and 20% don’t.
It becomes harder to measure how well vaccines work in the real world compared with trials, because you can’t control who gets vaccinated and who doesn’t. Other differences between the two groups could influence the risk of getting sick from COVID-19. For example, those who chose not to get vaccinated could also be more likely to put themselves in risky situations that may expose them to the virus.
The numbers can also vary because they depend on numerous factors, including what you’re measuring, when you measure it, the age of the population you’re measuring it in, and whether there’s been previous COVID-19 infections.
Stephen Evans, professor of medical statistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Insider that in general, the more severe the illness caused by Delta, the better the COVID-19 vaccines appeared to work against it. But the evidence on vaccines’ effectiveness wasn’t strong, he said.
The UK is delaying the second dose of the vaccines for up to 12 weeks for most people to prioritize giving people their first shot because of an initial shortage of vaccines. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended giving second doses of Pfizer’s vaccine 21 days after the first, and 28 days after the first for Moderna, with an interval of up to six weeks in “unavoidable” situations.
The data for how well the vaccines work after one dose isn’t clear cut – it depends on what you’re measuring, and when you’re measuring it. Stephen Evans, a professor of medical statistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a former drug-safety committee member at the European Medicines Agency, helped Insider break down the data.
Evans said the Food and Drug Administration presentation of the data from late-stage trials of each vaccine was generally the best data available. This is how much protection one shot of each vaccine gives you, based on that data.
Pfizer-BioNTech: at least 80%
Pfizer’s shot was 52.4% effective at protecting against COVID-19 with symptoms between the first and second dose, according to the FDA documents. But the 52.4% figure includes the 11 days before protection kicks in after the first dose, so the real percentage could well be higher.
The true value lies between 29.5% and 84.5%, according to the FDA documents. There was a wide range because not many people caught COVID-19 in the trial during this time period.
Pfizer’s shot was 100% effective at protecting against hospitalization and death. This was based on a small number though – only four people got severe COVID-19 in the trial after receiving placebo rather than the vaccine.
Evans said there was “pretty clear evidence” that you get at least 80% protection – and “probably” better than 90% – for Pfizer’s vaccine against COVID-19 with symptoms after a single dose. He said you couldn’t be absolutely sure what happens after 21 days because it hadn’t been fully tested.
Evans said this was based on his overall reading of the trial data used by the FDA in their briefing document before authorization.
Moderna: at least 80%
Moderna’s vaccine was 69.5% effective at preventing COVID-19 with symptoms between the first and second dose, with a true value between 43.5% and 84.5%. There was a fairly wide range because the number of people that caught COVID-19 in the trial during this time period was low.
The 69.5% figure includes the 13 days before protection starts, so the real percentage could be higher.
There were a small number of people in Moderna’s trial – about 7% – that didn’t get their second dose for unknown reasons. In this group, the shot was 50.8% effective at preventing COVID-19 with symptoms for up to 14 days after the first dose and 92.1% effective after 14 days.
It is unclear how well one shot of the vaccine protects against hospitalization and death because not many people got severe COVID-19 – two in the vaccine group and four in placebo.
Evans said that you get at least 80% protection – and probably better than 90% – for Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 with symptoms after a single dose for 28 days. After 28 days it was unclear because it hadn’t been tested. Again, this was based on his overall reading of the FDA data, he said.
AstraZeneca: more than 70%
Evans said it was harder to ascertain a figure for AstraZeneca’s vaccine because late-stage trials used differing study designs, and a large US study was ongoing. The FDA also has not yet presented the data for the shot in the same way it has done for other vaccines.
A single dose of AstraZeneca’s shot was 76% effective at protecting against COVID-19 with symptoms for at least 90 days, according to late-stage-trial data published in The Lancet on February 19. The study authors also reported that one dose provided 100% protection against hospitalization, but the numbers were small.
Based on his reading of existing studies, Evans said the single-dose efficacy for AstraZeneca’s vaccine was probably at least 70% against COVID-19 with symptoms for the first 90 days. After this time period, it’s unclear, he said.
Johnson & Johnson: 66%
J&J looked at protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 in trials, rather than symptomatic COVID-19, like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
Protection kicked in at 14 days and was 66.1% effective at 28 days. The vaccine’s efficacy varied depending on the country it was used in – it was 72% effective in the US but 64% and 68% effective in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. These countries both have coronavirus variants circulating that could partially evade antibodies.
What percentage efficacy means
Percentage efficacy for vaccines refers to the proportion of people that get full protection after a vaccine. With 80% efficacy, 80% of people have full protection, and 20% don’t.
For those who get full protection the first time around, the second shot improves the quality of the immune response and its durability.
For the people who don’t get full protection with the first shot, some will get full protection after the second dose. Some people won’t ever get full protection from a vaccine because their immune system doesn’t respond at all.
The latest real-world data: One shot significantly reduces infections and transmission
A UK study found Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine cut COVID-19 infections with symptoms by 72% after one dose, and protection probably held up for 10 weeks. Protection from Pfizer’s vaccine rose to 90% after two doses. The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed.
A US study of essential workers found that a single dose of Pfizer of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were 80% effective against all coronavirus infections from 14 days.
A Scottish study found that a single dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was 91% effective against hospitalization at 28 to 34 days following vaccination. One dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 88% effective against hospital admissions after the same time period.
A UK study found that a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine cut spread of symptomatic COVID-19 within a household by up to 50%.
A South Korean study found one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was 89.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 in South Koreans aged over 60, at least two weeks after vaccination. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 86% effective at preventing COVID-19 after one dose. The severity of illness that the shots protected against was unclear – generally they’re more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections that caused hospitalization or death.
An English study found that a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine was about 80% effective at preventing hospitalization in people over 70-years-old. Protection lasted for at least 6 weeks, including against the Alpha variant first identified in the UK.
An Israel study showed that Pfizer’s vaccine was 54% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, from 13 days to 24 days after vaccination, a figure comparable to the late stage trial data presented to the FDA.
A UK study estimated that a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine was between 56% and 62% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection caused by the Alpha variant in people over 75 years-old, four to seven weeks after the first dose. The severity of illness that the shots protected against was unclear, but probably included asymptomatic infections.
A UK study estimated that one dose of Pfizer vaccine was 79.3% effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 in people aged over 80. A single shot of AstraZeneca’s was 80.4% effective, the researchers said.
Newest data suggests second shot provides better protection against variants
Real-word data from the UK posted May 23 by Public Health England showed that Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines worked better against the variants when two doses were given rather than just one. Both vaccines were 30% effective against COVID-19 with symptoms caused by the Delta variant, first identified in India, three weeks after the first dose.
This was boosted to between 60% and 88% effectiveness two weeks after the second dose. The two vaccines were 50% effective against COVID-19 with symptoms against the variant first found in the UK, Alpha, three weeks after the first dose. This increased to between 66% and 93% two weeks after the second dose.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, said on June 8 that getting two doses of COVID-19 vaccines would stop the Delta variant from spreading across the US. In the UK, Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters, chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 Taskforce, said in a statement on June 4 that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were “critical for protection” against emerging strains of the virus.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that 50 teenagers living in the state could win a full scholarship to any state college or university if they get a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Thursday.
The “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” prize draw would allow parents of vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds to add their child’s names to a raffle. State officials would randomly pick ten names every week for five weeks, Cuomo said at a press conference Wednesday.
The scholarship adds to the list of incentives state officials are using to boost vaccine uptake. Last week, Cuomo unveiled a new “Vax and Scratch” program, which would give people $20 scratch-off lottery tickets for a $5 million cash prize. He announced a two-day free pass to any state park for vaccinated New Yorkers on Monday.
Winners of the prize draw would receive up to five years’ worth of funds to cover tuition, books, and room and board for those enrolling in an undergraduate or approved bachelor’s degree program, Cuomo said.
Cuomo said it was open to all vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds.
New York state also offers the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition costs for students whose parents make $125,000 or less per year.
Cuomo said the state needed to “get creative” to encourage more New Yorkers to get their shot, amid slowing demand.
“Vaccination rates across the state are beginning to slow and our greatest need is with young New Yorkers who make up a large percent of positive cases and have the lowest vaccination percentage in the state,” Cuomo said at the press conference.
As of Wednesday, 46% of New York residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 55% have received at least one dose, according to a New York Times database.
The UK has reported more than 4,000 cases of the variant, which has now spread to 49 countries including the US, according to Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data. B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the UK, remains the most common variant in both countries.
One dose offered far less protection, the Public Health England (PHE) study showed. A single dose of either vaccine was 33% effective against COVID-19 with symptoms caused by B.1.617.2.
The study, which was posted as a preprint Saturday and is yet to be peer-reviewed by other experts, is the first in the world to show that vaccines offer some protection against B.1.617.2, which has mutations that make it highly infectious and potentially able to escape antibodies produced by vaccines.
For comparison, two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine was 93% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the most common variant in the US, B.1.1.7, and AstraZeneca’s was 66% effective. After one dose, both vaccines were 50% effective against B.1.1.7, the data showed.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s health and social care secretary, said Sunday in a press release that the findings were “groundbreaking” and showed the importance of getting a second dose to secure the “strongest possible protection” against coronavirus variants.
Second shot of Pfizer and AstraZeneca boosted protection
Adam Kucharski, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said on Twitter Sunday that “first and foremost” the study was “another reminder that second doses matter.”
The actual amount of protection offered by the vaccines could be more than it seems from the figures, as the PHE researchers did not look at whether the vaccines protected against severe disease caused by variants. COVID-19 vaccines typically offer more protection against these outcomes.
The lower efficacy of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after two doses, compared with Pfizer’s, could be down to the fact that it was mostly given to older people, who have weaker immune responses, the study’s authors said.
Companies across the US are joining in the largest-ever vaccination effort by offering employees perks if they receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Receiving the vaccine is voluntary, but most companies have strongly encouraged employees get the immunization when it’s their turn. The two-dose vaccines, one from Pfizer and BioNtech and the other from Moderna, were emergency approved in the US in December. Since then, almost 34 million people have received one or more doses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many states and localities have begun moving from the first phase of vaccinating health care workers and elderly living in long-term care facilities to immunizing front-line workers. With that, some companies are giving workers two to three hours of paid time off per dose received, and others are offering a stipend for employees who voluntarily get the shots when it’s their turn.
Recently, Publix, Petco and AT&T joined the growing list. Here’s the 18 Insider knows about so far:
Know of a company not on this list that’s offering employees time off, pay, or other perks to get vaccinated? Email Natasha, the reporter of this piece, at email@example.com.
Target is offering workers up to four hours of paid time off to get both shots of the vaccine and will pay for Lyft rides up to $15 for employees needing transportation to and from their appointment.
2. Dollar General
The discount chain was the first major retailer to announce an incentive for workers to get vaccinated. Dollar General employees can earn up to four hours of pay for receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and will receive extra time off if they have an adverse reaction.
Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and The Capital Grille, will offer workers four hours of paid time off, two hours per dose, Bloomberg reported. Employees must show proof of their vaccination to earn the time. The company doesn’t require the shots, but strongly encouraged workers to get them.
4. Shake Shack
The burger-and-shake restaurant chain will give workers 3 hours of pay per shot of the two-dose vaccine. Shake Shack didn’t mandate employees receive the vaccine but “strongly encouraged” it.
5. Noodles & Company
Workers will earn up to four hours of paid time off for receiving the vaccine, the company said in a Feb. 10 statement to Insider. The restaurant strongly recommended employees receive the vaccine but did not require it.
The grocer is giving employees a one-time $100 payment for getting the vaccine. On top of that, Kroger said it would give associates an added bonus of a $100 store card and 1,000 fuel points to “thank and reward” workers during the pandemic.
7. Trader Joe’s
The grocery retailer will offer all 50,000 employees two hours of pay per dose and allow for flexible scheduling so workers can make it to appointments.
The app will offer its US and Canada shoppers, who deliver groceries to customers, a $25 stipend to get vaccinated.
The German grocery chain is encouraging workers to get vaccinated by offering its US workers $200 in extra pay if they receive the immunization.
The fast food chain is giving workers four hours of pay for receiving the vaccine. Though getting the shots is not required, the company said it will connect employees with groups that can answer questions on the vaccination, Restaurant Business reported.
The coffee chain is offering workers two hours of pay per dose of the COVID-19 vaccine they receive.
Amtrak is allowing employees to get vaccinated during work hours, and will pay for two hours off if employees provide proof they received the shot. Workers will also be excused with pay for up to 48 hours if they have side effects.
15. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s
The meat-packing company is offering employees a $100 bonus incentive if they receive the vaccine voluntarily.
The pet-supply retailer told Insider it would offer employees a one-time payment of $75 for getting vaccinated. Plus, it will give a $25 donation to the Petco Partner Assistance Fund for each person who receives their shots.
AT&T is giving employees up to four hours of paid time off per dose, adding up to eight hours total for anyone who needs the hours to get the vaccine, a spokesperson said in an email to Insider. The company is also giving workers access to Castlight, a tool to help them find available vaccines in their area based on eligibility.
Publix will give associates a $125 gift card to the store after they get both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers aren’t required to get the shots at Publix, but they will need to show proof of vaccination. The vaccine is optional, though encouraged, the company said.
19. Walmart and Sam’s Club
Beginning May 18, Walmart and Sam’s Club will give its associates below the store manager level $75 for being fully vaccinated, the companies announced on May 14. Workers are required to show their vaccine card in order to receive this bonus.
In January, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO), warned that the world was on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure” by not giving enough vaccines to poorer countries. “It is not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, vaccines remain scarce in low- and middle-income countries and many of the most vulnerable people in those nations haven’t yet received a shot, a WHO spokesperson told Insider. In India, where millions are dying and the virus has mutated, less than 10% of people have had at least one vaccine dose, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.
Some experts see this disparity as a moral dilemma. “You don’t need to vaccinate all the way down, say, to your teen population … before you send out vaccine doses to COVAX,” Melinda French Gates, co-chair at the Gates Foundation, said May 9. COVAX is the WHO-backed initiative that aims to get more vaccines to low and middle-income countries.
To get itself – and the world – back to normal, the US needs to both vaccinate its young people and send more shots abroad, some experts told Insider. Others went further, and said that it doesn’t make sense to vaccinate low-risk populations, such as kids, when vulnerable people abroad are at risk abroad.
Fauci: We need to do both
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor, has said that immunizing young people is essential to achieve herd immunity, which is when enough people are vaccinated that the virus can no longer spread from person to person.
But Fauci has also advocated sending doses abroad to curb the virus’ spread.
“[India has] got to get their resources, not only from within, but also from without, and that’s the reason why other countries need to chip in to be able to get either supplies for the Indians to make their own vaccines or to get vaccines donated,” Fauci told ABC News Sunday.
A spokesperson from US President Joe Biden’s administration told Insider that it had committed 60 million AstraZeneca doses to countries in need, once cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Kathleen Neuzil, professor in vaccinology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told Insider that vaccinating teens and sending doses abroad via COVAX were not “necessarily mutually exclusive.”
Neuzil said that she’d witnessed more younger people from ethnic minorities and with chronic conditions getting sick with COVID-19 in the US, who needed access to vaccines. But she said a coordinated response was required between nations. “No single country alone can beat this pandemic.”
Dr. Erlinda Ulloa, a pediatrician studying the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in kids at the University of California, told Insider that fair vaccine distribution and immunizing teens in the US were separate issues.
Ulloa said that 12 to 15 year-olds should get vaccines if and when it’s recommended. “It’s remarkably safe and effective in this age group,” she said. But from an ethical perspective, if there’s opportunity to support vaccination efforts abroad then the US should do it, Ulloa said.
Getting back to normal
Janet Englund, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told Insider that if US teens weren’t immunized the virus would continue to spread in younger age groups. “To get back to ‘normal,’ we need to immunize our younger people,” she said.
“But if we don’t take care of the rest of the world, it’s going to be a temporary fix,” she added. “All these variants will eventually escape our vaccine and the best way to handle that is to vaccinate [the US and the rest of the world].”
Englund said the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech – the shot that has been authorized for US teens – might be technically difficult to use in low and middle income countries right now as it requires very cold storage temperatures, although the groups are working on a vaccine that can be stored in a normal fridge. Other vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) could be more useful as they can be stored at normal temperatures already, and J&J’s shot is just one dose, she said.
Prioritize vulnerable adults abroad, two experts say
Russell Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London, told Insider in a statement that the “key risk” for society was the “diversion of vaccines” to low risk groups while vulnerable adults in other countries remain unvaccinated.
Viner said very few children and teenagers ended up in intensive care with COVID-19 disease, and almost all of these were the same children that are vulnerable to winter viruses every year. It’s difficult to argue that vaccination benefits healthy teens, given our current knowledge, he said.
Viner said there was undoubtedly a very small group of teenagers who were clinically extremely vulnerable and should be vaccinated. Teenagers also play a role in transmission so if they remain unvaccinated they could act as a reservoir of infection, he said.
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, told Insider in a statement that giving vaccines to adolescents wasn’t a priority, at least for now.
Finn explained that most children who catch coronavirus don’t get seriously ill. “Indeed, most don’t get sick at all,” he said.
Finn said that at this point in the pandemic, when there are global shortages of vaccines, and lots of vulnerable people who haven’t got a shot, the priority was to prevent large epidemic waves, like the one in India.
“Those outbreaks pose a global threat as they drive the evolution of vaccine-resistant variants and their dissemination around the world,” he said.
Teenagers in the US are now eligible for a leading coronavirus vaccine, as the Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded the authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 shot to include 12- to 15-year-olds.
Expanding eligibility to include the younger age group could give the immunization campaign a boost. The US has seen the daily rate of people getting their first dose plummet since early April, from a peak of 1.9 million people a day to about 830,000 a day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A major driver for that decline has been that a majority of adults in the US have already received at least one dose. About 58% of US adults have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, according to CDC data.
“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the FDA, said in a statement. “Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
Pfizer tested the vaccine in a clinical study that enrolled 2,260 children ages 12 to 15. Half of the volunteers received Pfizer’s shot, while the other half got a placebo injection. Overall, the trial recorded 18 COVID-19 cases, all in the placebo group. Side effects of the shot were in line with those observed in people 16 to 25 years old, Pfizer said.
Pfizer and other vaccine developers are also testing COVID-19 shots in younger populations down to 6-month-olds
In September, Pfizer anticipates study results showing whether the shot works in children ages 2 to 11.
The final step down for kids – from 6-month-old babies to 2-year-olds – should produce data in November, according to Pfizer’s projections.
Other leading vaccine developers are also testing their shots in younger populations.
On May 6, Moderna said its vaccine was highly effective in an initial review of a clinical trial enrolling more than 3,000 teenagers. The Massachusetts biotech said it was “in discussions with regulators about a potential amendment to its regulatory filings” after those early results. Moderna is also enrolling volunteers for a study testing the vaccine in kids 11 years old all the way down to 6 months old.
Both vaccines are authorized to be given as two injections, spaced weeks apart, but this data again shows how effective the vaccines are overall.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Twitter Tuesday that one dose of the vaccine co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 89.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 in South Koreans aged over 60. The vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was 86% effective at preventing COVID-19 after one dose, it said.
The KDCA analysis included more than 520,000 people who had been vaccinated with a single dose of either vaccine.
The agency didn’t provide a breakdown of how many people received each shot or the severity of illness – COVID-19 vaccines are generally more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections that cause hospitalization or death.
The KDCA said the vaccines’ protective effect was higher when the second vaccination was completed, so a second shot within the recommended period was “absolutely necessary”.
South Korea’s findings adds to a growing body of real-world data suggesting that a single shot of a COVID-19 vaccine protects against COVID-19, but it’s still not clear how long protection from a single dose may last.
Real-world data from the UK, posted as a pre-print study on April 23, found that either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine cut COVID-19 infections with symptoms by 72%. Protection from a single dose probably holds up for at least 10 weeks, based on measurements of antibody levels, the study, which wasn’t peer-reviewed, said.
Another real-world study from Scotland published in the Lancet on April 23 found that a single dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was 91% effective against hospitalization at 28 to 34 days following vaccination. One dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 88% effective against hospital admissions after the same time period, the study found.