Good news about COVID-19 vaccines expected next month – Dr. Yong

File Photo: A researcher at the Chula Vaccine Development Centre shows a tube of vaccine prototype. This prototype is now being tested on macaques.

There may be some positive news about effective COVID-19 vaccines next month, according to Dr. Yong Poovorawan, Chulalongkorn University’s well known virologist.

He said that several candidate vaccines, with high efficacy, are in the last stage of trials and an announcement is expected soon.

An ideal vaccine must be effective in the prevention of the disease, with minimal or no side effects. It should be able to be kept at room temperature, be mass-produced at low cost and affordable to most people, said Dr. Yong.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech announced, on November 9th, that their mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, has demonstrated significant efficacy against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The results are from the first interim efficacy analysis, conducted on November 8th by an external, independent data monitoring committee, from the Phase 3 clinical study.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO.

Dr. Yong, however, noted that the mRNA vaccine, produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, must be kept at a temperature as low as -70oC and, when it is to be administered, it must be warmed to 2-8oC and used within 4-7 days.

As far as Thailand is concerned, he said that there is a slim chance that the country will have the facility for mass storage of a vaccine at -70oC, adding such a freezer costs as much as a car.

Besides the effectiveness of a vaccine, its price and ease of storage, easy transportation of the vaccine to the end users is just as important, said Dr. Yong.


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