Covid Vaccine Frontrunners Will Soon See Their Moment of Truth
By Naomi Kresge
- Early data anticipated as soon as mid-September, analysts say
- Three companies may have data before key October FDA meeting
Drugmakers made big promises for a quick turnaround on coronavirus vaccines. The moment of truth for the front-runners is coming as soon as this month.
The first results showing whether a vaccine can stop people from getting the virus could come by mid-September from AstraZeneca Plc, according to Airfinity Ltd., an analytics company that tracks drug trials. The drugmaker has pledged as many as 30 million doses to the U.K. by the end of the month.
Two other contenders — the U.S.’s Moderna Inc. and the U.S.-German partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE — may also have initial data before a key Food and Drug Administration meeting on virus vaccines scheduled for Oct. 22, Airfinity said. The federal government has told states to prepare for a vaccine by Nov. 1. A fourth candidate, China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., could have preliminary results shortly after the FDA meeting.
These early results will be far from the full picture. They’re what’s known as interim readouts — snapshots taken before a study is complete, with only a fraction of the data. The World Health Organization on Monday cautioned against approving a vaccine before its full risks and benefits are clear. But with the virus resurgent in Europe and continuing to spread in India and the Americas, the initial numbers will be an important early indicator.
The first results should be enough to “give us a very good idea of where we’re heading,” Airfinity Chief Executive Officer Rasmus Bech Hansen said. “They are moving faster than one could have anticipated.”
Source: Airfinity, August 29 report
Airfinity’s projections are based on publicly available data on trial enrollment and design, together with infection rates in places where patients are enrolled.
Each of these experimental vaccines has already shown promise in smaller trials designed to flag any serious safety concerns and show whether candidates can spur some response from the immune system. Early safety data is key; unlike drugs, vaccines are typically given to relatively healthy people and shouldn’t create severe risks.
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