JUST 10 days after hitting 9 million cases of the novel coronavirus, the United States surpassed 10 million confirmed infections this week.
The milestone happened on Monday, November 9, after Johns Hopkins University recorded more than 100,000 new cases. Its death toll, meanwhile, passed 237,000.
The U.S., with about 4% of the world’s population, accounts for about one-fifth of the 50.4 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide.
The same day, drugmaker Pfizer announced that interim results in human trials showed their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
“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. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” he added.
Pfizer is also planning to seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after they obtain two months of safety follow-up data on half of the participants in their trial, along with data on their manufacturing process.
Bourla noted that the vaccine has shown no safety problems so far, but said they need to wait until “the results are there.”
Envoy: COVID-19 vaccine might be ready early next year
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said the country may receive an initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021 once talks are finalized and a contract has been signed.
“Sa tingin ko by early next year, first quarter, magkakaroon na tayo ng (supply) by tranches ‘yan (I think by early next year, 1st quarter, we’ll be able to get the supply in tranches),” he said in a pre-recorded interview with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“The demand is very high at least for the first tranches of this supply but they’re very confident na masu-supply nila ang lahat ng kailangan ng mga mag-o-order na ngayon (that they’ll be able to supply the needs of those who would order now),” he added.
According to Romualdez, Pfizer was the first company to approach the Philippines amid talks with various U.S. pharmaceutical firms developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
“Right now sila ang pinaka-nangunguna dito sa Amerika na ma-approve dahil 90% ang efficacy ng Pfizer (Right now, Pfizer is leading to get the first approval because its candidate vaccine is 90% effective)… It will be sold to many of their (U.S.) allies, specifically in the Philippines na ‘di naman gaano kamahal (and it won’t be too expensive), it would be around USD5 per shot siguro,” he said.
On the other hand, the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine is unlikely in the country.
“We need to verify the accuracy of (Pfizer’s) claim that the vaccine is 90 percent effective.
If (Pfizer) will apply to conduct a clinical trial here, the Vaccine Expert Panel will check the data, and would verify the claim,” DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said Tuesday, Nov. 10.
He also said that the Philippine authorities could not rely on Pfizer’s announcement as it was the firm’s announcement.
“We do not know the data that supports (the claim),” De la Peña said.