The FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday, December 11, 2020, making the US the second country to clear the vaccine for public use (the UK approved the vaccine earlier in December). However, there are many questions and concerns among the general public regarding the nature and efficacy of the vaccine. To help you develop a better understanding, here we’re presenting a summary of everything that we know about the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the world.
What Does the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Contain and How Does it Work?
Pfizer’s vaccine for the novel coronavirus isn’t prepared using the traditional method of vaccine creation. In other words, it doesn’t contain components of the SARS-CoV-2. Instead, the vaccine uses a synthesized messenger RNA (mRNA) to induce an immune response in the recipients.
The mRNA, synthesized using the genetic code of the virus, supplies the body with the code that initiates the manufacturing of protein (similar to the one found on the spikes of SARS-CoV-2) in the body. This, in turn, stimulates the body’s immune system against the protein. Simply put, the mRNA trains the body’s immune system to recognize the specific antigen to prepare it for fighting against the real virus, if and when it attacks the body.
How Effective Is Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine?
Since the vaccine has been approved for public use only recently, there isn’t much data available regarding its real-world effectiveness. However, it was found to be 95% effective in preventing coronavirus during the clinical trials. Furthermore, the vaccine was found equally effective against mild, moderate, and severe cases of coronavirus and across all age groups, races, and genders.
However, some healthcare experts are concerned about this claim because over 80% of the 38,000participants of Pfizer’s clinical trial were white. Also, the vaccine wasn’t tested on children, under 16 years of age, during the first round of clinical trials. Although Pfizer later expanded the trial to include children, the vaccine’s efficacy on minors is still under investigation. There is also a lack of data regarding the vaccine’s effectiveness on immune-compromised people and pregnant women.
Is the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?
Safety of the vaccine has been the greatest public concern, and understandably so. Based on clinical trials and the data gathered in the UK from people that have received the vaccine, Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is largely safe and only causes minimal short-term side effects.
There have only been four cases of severe side effects from Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in which the recipients suffered from Bell’s palsy. However, according to the FDA, this isn’t something to be worried about because the occurrences have been consistent with the normal rate of Bell’s palsy among the general population.
Read our post, “Is Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?” [Hyperlink the blog post here] to learn more about the vaccine’s safety and its potential side effects.
How Long The Vaccine Will Protect You From The Coronavirus?
We don’t know this yet. There isn’t enough information available regarding how long the vaccine-induced immunity against coronavirus will last. However, Eleanor Riley, professor of Immunology at the University of Edinburgh, is of the opinion that the immunity induced by the vaccine is likely to last for a year. According to her, people will need booster shots annually to continue protecting themselves against the virus.
It’s important to note here that this view is based on how natural immunity works. Will the immunity induced by the coronavirus vaccine work the same way or not? Only time will tell.