Not only that, but the vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing the most severe forms of the disease. That’s pretty fantastic.
Here’s the not-so-fantastic thing. The reason that the vaccine was ‘only’ 66 percent effective in the trial is that it didn’t do as well in South Africa, where a worrying new variant is circulating widely. While the efficacy in the US was 72 percent, the efficacy in South Africa was 57 percent.
That’s still not bad
. But it does mean that there’s a clock ticking in the background as the company moves to get the vaccine candidate authorized. The variants are spreading quickly — one was first detected in the US this week
. The sooner the world can be vaccinated, the better the chance all these vaccines will be at stopping the spread of the virus.
“We’ve got to get the first dose to as many people as possible,” virologist Akiko Iwasaki told STAT. “These variants that are more transmissible and potentially even more lethal are on the rise. I think time is really what we’re fighting against.”
Here’s what else is happening this week.