Pfizer, Moderna announce effective COVID-19 vaccines

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Flickr CC: Art Writ

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach phase three clinical trials.

The most talked-about vaccine at the moment is the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is being conducted by Moderna and Pfizer in the Research Centers of America. This is the first vaccine for COVID-19 in the United States that has reached phase three clinical trial.

 

My hope is that that a safe vaccine is available soon. However in the meantime we still need to do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe. When a safe, effective vaccine does come out I hope that the government will prioritize giving it out to the most vulnerable to Covid-19.”

— Karla Garcia

 

According to the American Cancer Society, before clinical trials can even commence there are countless laboratory studies where they test the vaccine on cells and animals. After this is approved they move on to the first phase of the clinical trial where they see if the vaccine is safe at all. They start by giving extremely low doses of the vaccine to a small group of humans, they watch them closely for any symptoms. If there are none they slowly increase the number of doses that they give the subjects. This trial is done to ensure that the vaccine is safe. After this trial is approved they move on to the second phase of the clinical trial. The main question of this trial is does the treatment really work? In this trial, 25 – 100 patients are tested. They usually receive the same dosage that worked best during trial one. They all usually receive the same dosage. If enough patients benefit from the treatment and there are not extreme side effects the phase three trials begin. The phase three clinical trial is the trial that Moderna and Pfizer are currently conducting. This trial is randomized, the patient is selected at random, and most of the time the doctor and patient do not know what dosage of the vaccine they are receiving. This type of study is called a double-blind study. Phase three is much larger than the past clinical trials; they usually include around several hundred patients, and the patients are selected from around the country and sometimes around the world. Like past trials, the patients are watched closely and if side effects become too overwhelming the treatment is stopped.

Karla Garcia a senior at SPA is optimistic about the new vaccine, she said, “My hope is that that a safe vaccine is available soon. However in the meantime we still need to do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe. When a safe, effective vaccine does come out I hope that the government will prioritize giving it out to the most vulnerable to Covid-19.”

If this trial is approved then the FDA has to approve it as well, and then it goes into the phase four trial where it is offered to thousands of people but still closely monitored. Even after the countless tests there still might be side effects that have not been recognized. The reason that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine has moved through these clinical trials at a fast rate is based on the extremity of COVID – 19. This makes a lot of people apprehensive about using the vaccine in fear that there has not been enough testing.

Elaina Parsons impressed and hopeful for the vaccine to come, she said, “I’m really hopeful because of it but also apprehensive considering that there is a lot of anti-vaccine people in America. I also think that the science behind it is really cool.”

According to CNN, on Nov. 9, Pfizer announced that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. The way that this specific trial is working is that half of the patients received the vaccine and the other half received a placebo, which is a shot of saline that does nothing. Then all the subjects were sent out to their communities. An independent board looks at which subjects got COVID 19, they compare this to the patients that received the vaccine and those who did not. This tells them if the vaccine is working or not.

The original image can be found at VCU on Flickr Creative Commons.