On November 9th, much to everyone’s delight, Pfizer announced that early results showed its vaccine was 90% effective against COVID-19. Then, shortly after another pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine, Moderna, announced its own early results, which showed its vaccine was 94.5% effective. But THEN Pfizer revealed that it had collected more data, and after reviewing that new data it had come to the conclusion that its vaccine was actually 95% effective. This is a surprise because many health experts had said that a coronavirus vaccine would likely only be 50% effective, which would be just enough to qualify it for distribution. The yearly flu vaccines are between 40-60% effective. So to get not one but two vaccines that are over 90% effective is beyond surprising and impressive. “I said I would be satisfied with a 70% to 75% efficacy. Something like a 95% was aspirational,” Dr. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, said. “Well, our aspirations have been met, and that is very good news.”With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the news couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ladies: Prior to tonight, you were asked to prepare a vaccine for coronavirus.
Moderna, Pfizer, the time has come. Good luck, and don’t fuck it up. pic.twitter.com/X3qhHfXVWb
— Joey Nolfi (@joeynolfi) November 18, 2020
To measure a vaccine’s effectiveness at combating the virus, the trials measure the difference in infection rates between participants who got vaccinated and those who received placebo shots. Moderna said that among the trial’s 30,000 participants, 95 were diagnosed with COVID-19, ninety of whom were in the placebo group, and the other 5 had received the vaccine, meaning the vaccine lead to a 94.5% reduced risk of infection. Moderna also reported that out of those 95, 11 had severe cases, all of whom were in the placebo group , which strongly indicates that the vaccine also helps prevent severe symptoms of the disease.
Pfizer had previously said that among its 43,500 study participants, 94 had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and the difference between those who were the placebo group and those who received the vaccine pointed to a greater than 90% effectiveness for the vaccine. It did not release its breakdown of COVID-19 cases between the placebo and vaccinated groups like Moderna did, and it also did not release any information on the severity of symptoms in those who got sick. That is, until this week, when the pharmaceutical company said that it had collected more data and the vaccine was actually 95% effective, as well as helpful in blocking severe symptoms of the disease.
Dr.Anthony Fauci has called the vaccines the “light at the end of the tunnel” for what has been a vicious pandemic. “It is the help I’ve said is on the way.” he added.
Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines are gene vaccines, a new approach to immunization and immunotherapy where one or more genes that encode proteins of the pathogen are delivered into the patient, instead of a live or inactivated organism. Basically, they use genes that teach human cells to make a piece of the pathogen, and that fires the immune system into action, therefore prompting immunity. They are not the only vaccines in development though, and there are others of various different types currently being developed. But the two companies have received notoriety for being some of the most advanced in terms of where they currently are in stages of development, and for their unbelievable level of efficacy against the coronavirus.
Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two injections spaced three to four weeks apart. Neither has been given emergency approval by the FDA yet, but they are expected to apply for it soon. Estimates suggest (strong emphasis on estimates and suggest) healthcare workers will start getting vaccinated in December, and the general US population is expected to start receiving the vaccine around April of next year.
On a side note, Dolly Parton deserves a huge thank you for donating a large amount of money to fund Moderna’s vaccine.
People celebrated in the most 2020 way possible, making memes and jokes about the rivalry between two big pharmaceutical companies that seemed to be trying to one-up each other with their results.
Someone tweeted this amazing reference to “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Pfizer Moderna pic.twitter.com/5ohVrcSLfd
— Tom Zohar (@TomZohar) November 16, 2020
“is that ” “94.5%? yeah…”
Others joked about the two companies’ pr teams, fighting over press releases.
Behind-the-scenes view of the Pfizer and Moderna comms teams preparing press releases this week… pic.twitter.com/bRITYJSWVo
— KizzyPhD (@KizzyPhD) November 18, 2020
And there were comparisons to that scene in “Bridesmaids” where they keep fighting over the mic.
— alex (@alex_abads) November 18, 2020
And who could forget the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Blunder?
Pfizer Moderna pic.twitter.com/vtZljUX8Ri
— simon (@simonjypark) November 16, 2020
Moderna announcing their vaccine after Pfizer pic.twitter.com/KVuanOOHXg
— Paul McCallion (@OrangePaulp) November 16, 2020
it’s the sexual tension between Pfizer and Moderna for me
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) November 18, 2020
big “my lab or yours?” energy, another user replied.
Anyway, it’s slightly unbelievable we are memeing Big Pharma in 2020, but here we are. At least the jokes are admittedly pretty funny, and we could all use a laugh during this pandemic.