Coronavirus treatment: Belgium to buy 5 million vaccines from Pfizer

The Interministerial Conference (CIM) Public Health gave the green light on Wednesday for the purchase by Belgium of the vaccine candidate from Pfizer and BioNTech against covid-19, the ministers concerned announced.

Belgium supports the European purchase agreement on the vaccine against the coronavirus developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. “If this vaccine obtains a marketing authorization, Belgium will buy it”, said the Interministerial Conference on Public Health in a press release, recalling that it is the European Commission which leads the negotiations on behalf of the Member States for the procedures for purchasing vaccines against covid-19, and submits the contracts to the Member States . In Belgium, the advisory committee responsible for analyzing purchasing files gave a positive opinion for the vaccine candidate from Pfizer and BioNTech. The Interministerial Conference (CIM) followed this advice on Wednesday.

In addition, our colleagues from the daily “Le Soir”, specify that Belgium will obtain 5 million doses from Pfizer. “(…) As two doses of this vaccine are needed to be protected, this means that 2.5 million Belgians will be able to benefit from it.“, writes the newspaper.

95% efficient

The vaccine developed by the Pfizer / BioNTech alliance is 95% effective in preventing Covid-19, according to full results from their large-scale clinical trial, the companies said in a statement Wednesday. This is better than partial results published last week which showed “more than 90% “ efficiency, and this supports the predictions of the American authorities according to which at least one vaccine can begin to be injected into the arms of Americans before the end of the year.

This means that 162 members of the placebo group in the trial contracted Covid-19, compared to only 8 in the vaccinated group, within seven days of the second dose of the vaccine, which is taken in two doses three weeks apart. The trial protocol was to assess efficacy once a total of 170 cases were reached in both groups. In total, more than 43,000 people have volunteered for the trial, which began in late July, and is expected to continue. Nine severe cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group, and one in the vaccinated group.

The vaccine available on the market as early as December?

Pfizer will apply for marketing authorization “in a few days” at the United States Drugs Agency (FDA). The FDA could then give the green light for marketing as early as December, a senior official in the government operation for vaccines, Moncef Slaoui, said on Monday. The effectiveness of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for people over 65 was “more than 94% “, specifies the press release. This level of efficacy, if confirmed in the population, would place the vaccine among the most effective in the world, comparable to that of measles, and much better than the influenza vaccine, which recently was only effective. at 19 to 60%.

Two side effects observed

The only significant side effects seen in over 2% of participants were fatigue (3.8%) and headaches (2%), leading manufacturers to say that the vaccine is “well toleratedPfizer was waiting to have two months of follow-up for at least half of the participants before seeking authorization from the FDA, a step which the group knew would be taken this week. “The trial marks an important step in the historic eight-month quest to develop a vaccine capable of ending this devastating pandemic”, said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. For Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of BioNTech, a small German biotechnology company that developed the new technology on which the vaccine is based, messenger RNA, “this achievement illustrates the potential of messenger RNA as a new class of drugs“.

The vaccine developed by Moderna is still in the race

Moderna, an American company, announced on Monday similar results (94.5% effectiveness), with a vaccine also based on messenger RNA. In both cases, the vaccines appeared particularly effective in preventing severe forms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. But the FDA will need to thoroughly assess the data on the efficacy and safety of the two vaccines, details that have not been made public by the manufacturers. The regulator is committed to doing so as publicly as possible. The United States, Europe and other countries have already reserved hundreds of millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The group plans to be able to produce 50 million this year, which is enough to vaccinate 25 million people, and 1.3 billion in 2021.

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