The results from the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine are in. 43,500 people were tested in six countries, there were no safety concerns, and the vaccine was 90% effective. Half of the volunteers got the vaccine, half got a placebo. 94 people got Covid during the trial.
90% is much better than I dared hope. 90% is up there with the best vaccines, such as that for measles.
You need two doses, three weeks apart, and you get 90% protection, seven days after the second dose.
It works in a similar way to a computer antivirus; a snippet of the RNA (the spike protein that attaches to the cell) is used to recognise the virus. The cell then produces the protein fragment, and that trains the immune system to detect and destroy the virus.
One difficultly will be in logistics - the vaccine needs to be stored at -70 or -80 degrees Centigrade. Liquid nitrogen boils at -196 C.
Pfizer will have 50 million doses by the end of 2020. The UK has 10 million doses expected by the end of 2020, with 30 million on order. Priority will be given to care homes, then healthcare and frontline staff, then the people most at risk on account of age.
This will probably get emergency approval by the end of November, and then vaccinations can start.
I would hope that the Oxford University/AstroZenica vaccine will be close behind. It will be nice to have a choice of two vaccines. The Oxford vaccine will be easier on the logistics, because it doesn't need to be stored at such a low temperature.
The next task will be to roll out the vaccination program, probably starting in December, if all goes well.Here's the priority list - it isn't definitive, and could change to respond to various underlying conditions that increase risk.