Coronavirus vaccines’ surprising effectiveness


Coronavirus vaccines' surprising effectiveness - Axios

The leading coronavirus vaccines are shaping up to be on par with some of the most effective vaccines in medicine, Axios’ Marisa Fernandez reports.

Why it matters: Vaccines with efficacy rates of about 95% — which both Pfizer and Moderna say they’ve achieved — will be more powerful weapons against the coronavirus than many experts had anticipated.

Flashback: The Food and Drug Administration initially set the bar for a COVID-19 vaccine at 50% efficacy, roughly in line with the seasonal flu vaccine.

  • Some scientists had hoped, in a best-case scenario, it might be as much as 70% effective.
  • “We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%. I’d like it to be 75% or more,” the NIH’s Anthony Fauci said in August.

But coming in closer to 95% would put Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines more in line with the highly effective inoculations against measles, mumps and rubella.

  • Like the MMR and polio vaccines, both prospective COVID-19 products would require two shots to reach that level of efficacy.
  • The third leading contender, being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, would also require two shots. Johnson & Johnson is testing both a single-dose and a two-dose vaccine in simultaneous phase 3 trials.

Yes, but: There’s still a lot we don’t know about these vaccines, including how well they’re likely to work among various demographic groups, and how long the immunity they confer will last.

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