Unlike most medicines which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them
How did we get the first COVID-19 vaccines to market so quickly?
It was the biggest science AND business breakthrough of the century:
- Baseline research work around mRNA had already been done before the pandemic for cancer immunotherapy, and they were already working on influenza vaccines.
- Once the COVID-19 vaccines were developed by the drug companies, they started manufacturing BEFORE clinical trials without proof they would be safe AND effective
- Normally phased trials run sequentially. Phase 1 to be followed by Phase 2 and finally Phase 3. To speed up the process, the FDA allowed these trials to run simultaneously. And the data was reviewed as the next Phase was launched.
- We were ‘lucky’ that the virus mutated slowly (unlike the influenza and Ebola viruses)
- And the vaccines have so far proven to not only be safe, but amazingly effective (above 90%)
Learn more about the development of the Pfizer vaccine on 60 Minutes (Dec 21, 2020)
Journalist – Bill Whitaker: This is a worldwide pandemic, the worst in a century. A vaccine with this technology had never gone to market before. That’s a big bet you made that this would work.
Pfizer Scientist – Kathrin Jansen: Yeah, I didn’t see it as much– maybe as a bet because we are scientists. That’s what we do for a living, every day. We discover new things. Everything is new.
Pfizer CEO – Albert Bourla: What I was thinking was if not us, then who? We are having a lot of experience with vaccines. We have a lot of manufacturing capability with vaccines. Then of course, I gave them also some tools in their hands. I told them that they should think, this is not business as usual. There is no consideration of return on investments.
Journalist – Bill Whitaker: An open checkbook?
Pfizer CEO – Albert Bourla: Yes. Will cost us around $2 billion. And I knew that– if we fail, and to have to write it off, is going to be very painful. But it will not take Pfizer down.
Journalist – Bill Whitaker: What do you say to people who worry that that was too fast, that this is being rushed to market?
NYU Vaccine Center Researcher – Dr. Mark Mulligan: Given the huge public health emergency that we’re in internationally, it was appropriate that all speed be used. I’ve done vaccine trials for 30 years, and I promise no corners have been cut on the usual safety evaluations.
About the Vaccines
Vaccine Biology 101
vs mRNA vaccines
Compare vaccines and pathway to immunity
Precautions and adverse reactions