Pedestrians walk past Pfizer world headquarters in New York on Monday. Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, but it doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

PM calls Pfizer’s Monday vaccine announcement ‘encouraging’

Monday’s announcement by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, that early data suggests their COVID-19 vaccine seems safe and effective could be very good news for Canadians.

Pfizer is one of seven drug companies Ottawa has signed a procurement agreement with for doses of their potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Following the announcement, which prompted stock markets around the world to soar, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Pfizer’s vaccine trial an “encouraging” development, saying it could be the first step toward restoring Canada’s social and economic life.

At a Monday press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Pfizer’s announcement an “encouraging” development. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Trudeau said that if all goes well, the Pfizer vaccine should be available to Canadians sometime over the first three months of 2021.

“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Trudeau said.

“We are hopeful we are getting there because our scientists are working incredibly hard.”

The announcement, Pfizer said, does not mean a vaccine is imminent, but it said that the company is on track to file an emergency use application with the U.S Food and Drug Administration later this month, raising the possibility of a regulatory decision as soon as December.

If authorization is granted, Reuters reported that up to 50 million doses could be rolled out this year, enough to protect 25 million people, followed by produce up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

On Monday, Pfizer said things could still change before trials end but that in the very early stages, the vaccine appears to offer 90 per cent effectiveness in preventing the virus.

Pfizer said an interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Pfizer did not provide other details about those cases.

COVID-19 in Canada
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, as of 10:44 a.m. EST on Nov. 9, 2020: There are 265,355 confirmed cases in Canada. — Quebec: 114,820 confirmed (including 6,440 deaths, 97,789 resolved) — Ontario: 85,395 confirmed (including 3,245 deaths, 72,636 resolved) — Alberta: 33,504 confirmed (including 363 deaths, 24,684 resolved) — British Columbia: 17,716 confirmed (including 276 deaths, 13,035 resolved) — Manitoba: 8,130 confirmed (including 106 deaths, 3,175 resolved) — Saskatchewan: 3,897 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,747 resolved) — Nova Scotia: 1,128 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,043 resolved) — New Brunswick: 354 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 324 resolved) — Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved) — Prince Edward Island: 66 confirmed (including 64 resolved) — Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved) — Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) — Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved) — Nunavut: 2 confirmed — Total: 265,355 (0 presumptive, 265,355 confirmed including 10,534 deaths, 215,826 resolved) (The Canadian Press)

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive.

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing overcapacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the trial results “extraordinary” and said Pfizer’s success bodes well for a similar vaccine being developed by U.S. firm Moderna, another pharmaceutical company that has an agreement with Canada.

Moderna has said it hopes to be able to file an application with U.S regulators later this month. 

With files from CBC, CP, AP

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