Pfizer says early data signals COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective

Drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech says an early look at data from its potential COVID-19 vaccine shows it to more than 90% effective, a result that is much better than expected if the trend continues.

The announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent: This 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, according to the associated press.

COVID-19 vaccines are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19, said a statement from the CDC. "Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19."

Pfizer Inc. did not provide details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

"For perspective, a flu vaccine is typically 40-50% effective, the mesales vaccine is about 90% effective -- this is how good this is" says KRLD Business Analyist David Johnson. "They (Pfizer) say they can produce 50 million doses by the end of this year, but 1.3 billion would be available in 2021."

Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use.

"The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)" says the CDC.