Monday 9 November 2020 5:12 pm

Coronavirus breakthrough as Pfizer vaccine ‘more than 90 per cent effective’

Pfizer has announced that its experimental Covid-19 vaccine proved more than 90 per cent effective in trials, sending Wall Street futures soaring in morning trading. 

Wall Street soared with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes catapulting to new records.

Already bolstered by post-election certainty, the indexes supercharged on hopes for a vaccine and return to normality.

Shares in Pfizer jumped on the open and are tonight trading around 10 per cent higher.

In a major breakthrough, Pfizer and Biontech described the results as a “great day for science and humanity”, as the two companies provided the first successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

The duo said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek US emergency use authorisation later this month.

If authorised, the vaccine could be rolled out in the next few months, though doses will initially be limited. 

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer. 

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

Bill Gruber, one of Pfizer’s top vaccine scientists, said: “I’m near ecstatic. This is a great day for public health and for the potential to get us all out of the circumstances we’re now in.”

London stocks also celebrated the breakthrough across the board, with the FTSE 100 jumping 5.3 per cent to 6,222.22, and the FTSE 350 jumping 4.2 per cent to 3,494.41.

Around a dozen drugs have reached the final stages of testing in the global race for a vaccine, but Pfizer’s is the first to show any results.

The efficacy rate is well above the 50 per cent effectiveness required by the US Food and Drug Administration to roll out a coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer’s vaccine uses an experimental approach that involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic dose to train the immune system to counter it.

The drug has so far been trialled in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

The US company believes it will supply 50m doses by the end of this year and around 1.3bn by the end of 2021.

Pfizer and BioNTech have signed a $1.95bn (£1.48bn) contract with the US government to deliver 100m vaccine doses beginning this year. They have also inked supply agreements with the EU, UK, Canada and Japan.

US President elect Joe Biden said a coronavirus vaccine approval process must be guided by science so the public can have confidence it is safe and effective, warning that the United States is still facing a dark winter and that a vaccine likely won’t be available for months.

“I implore you, wear a mask…. A mask is not a political statement,” Biden said, adding that he would spare no effort to turn the pandemic around once he is sworn in.

The UK’s drugs regulator last month began an accelerated review of coronavirus vaccines being developed by Pfizer and British-Swedish firm Astrazeneca.

Rolling reviews allow regulators contemporaneous access to trial data in order to get drugs approved more quickly. They are used to speed through approvals where there is a public health requirement.