U.S. Department of Health ADM Brett P. Giroir testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020.
Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters
A senior administration official said Monday that the announcement is “extremely encouraging” to US health officials PfizerThe coronavirus vaccine is highly effective in preventing Covid-19.
The news, combined with progress in the country’s manufacturing and distribution plans for Covid-19 vaccines, makes US health officials “very optimistic” that the vaccine and others under development “could effectively end the pandemic,” Adm said. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a conference call.
“But we still have a lot to do before this vaccine is widely used and distributed,” he added. “I think we all know that our nation is in a critical phase of this pandemic, with significant community spread, averaging 100,000 cases per day over the past seven days, and increasing hospital admissions at an estimated 61,000 daily. “
Earlier in the day, Pfizer announced his vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without prior infection and hailed the development as “a great day for science and humanity”. For comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a vaccine against influenza lowers the risk of flu in the general population by 40% to 60%.
Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, told CNBC that the company is on track to produce up to 50 million doses of vaccine by 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by 2021.
“I think this is probably the most significant medical advance in 100 years,” he said. “It’s a great day for science. It’s a great day for humanity that you find your vaccine is 90% effective. That’s overwhelming.”
The announcement comes as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in the United States. In the past seven days, the country has reported an average of 108,736 new cases per day, according to a CNBC analysis, up more than 33% from a week’s data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 30 states hit record highs in average new cases every day, according to Hopkins data.
Health officials fear the situation could get especially dire as people also get the seasonal flu and hospitals are full. A coronavirus model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, once cited by the White House, predicts more than 399,163 deaths from Covid-19 in the United States as of February 1.
A safe and effective vaccine is seen by investors and policy makers as a solution To get the global economy going again after the pandemic wreaked havoc and uproar in almost every country in the world. There are currently four US-sponsored front-runners with a vaccine in third-phase clinical trials: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Even with a vaccine, some infectious disease experts are warning the coronavirus likely to become as “endemic” as the annual flu virus.
Giroir admitted on Monday that the coronavirus is unlikely to ever go away from the planet. But he hopes vaccines will bring the virus to low levels and infections like polio will be rare.
“Until then, we must take public health action,” he said, urging people to wear masks, wash their hands and keep their distance from others.