To be fair, they didn’t say the first bit. But it’s hard to argue that politics didn’t influence the timing, for reasons we’ll come to shortly. But first, the news:
As I type these words, stock markets are surging globally. And why wouldn’t they? A 90% effective Coronavirus vaccine means, well, the end of the Coronavirus, the end of lockdowns, and back to normal. Eventually, anyway:
A VACCINE JOINTLY developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections in ongoing Phase 3 trials, the companies has announced today, exceeding the expectations of experts.
Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings.
“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,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statemen
Based on supply projections, the companies said they expect to supply up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
Assuming the vaccine gets fast tracked through all the usual approvals processes, that should mean that the first world (which of course will get first dibs on the vaccine) should be largely taken care of by early 2022. The poorest countries, as always, will have to wait a little longer.
But isn’t the timing of the release of this news interesting? Phil Kerpen sure thinks so:
94 confirmed events when only 62 were required means Pfizer absolutely could have released its interim results before the election, but chose not to.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) November 9, 2020
What does that mean in English? It means that Pfizer met the threshold for vaccine viability some time ago, when they had 62 cases of Coronavirus show up in their placebo group. They could have declared the vaccine working then, but waited until they got up to 94.
Some people might say that’s just caution. Others might say that nobody wanted to be the company that gave Donald Trump massively good news in the run up to the American election. Two weeks ago, after all, the announcement of a vaccine would have been greeted nearly universally on the left as evidence that big business was trying to boost Trump’s re-election. Now that the election is over, those same people can safely denounce any suggestion of a political motive as a fringe right wing loony conspiracy theory.
In Pfizer’s defence, they may have feared that a vaccine released in the days before a US election would be seen as a rush job to boost the President, resulting in millions of Democrats just refusing to take it, or trust it. But either way, anyone who tells you the timing is just a coincidence and has nothing to do with politics is either living in dreamland, or taking you for a fool.
Anyway, Americans will get the vaccine free, apparently, since their government helped pay for it. No word yet when it will arrive here. But whatever your view on vaccines might be in general, this is the best news we’ve had in some time if you’re concerned about the economy, and lockdowns, and all that sort of thing. The days of the covid pandemic, finally, are numbered.