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Coronavirus vaccine maker ‘near ecstatic’ after study result

Staff writers with AFP, November 10, 2020 7:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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A man walks by the Pfizer headquarters on November 9, 2020 in New York City, US. Pfizer announced positive early results on its COVID-19 vaccine trial. Picture: Getty Images/AFP media_cameraA man walks by the Pfizer headquarters on November 9, 2020 in New York City, US. Pfizer announced positive early results on its COVID-19 vaccine trial. Picture: Getty Images/AFP

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Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt has welcomed a coronavirus vaccine study that showed a 90 per cent effectiveness rate.

The Australian Government ordered 10 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate last week.

Results from the company released on Monday night showed it had exceeded expectations*.

Mr Hunt said: “The data on our vaccine candidates continues to be positive. We will examine the evidence carefully but the latest results are heartening* news.”

Dr Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development said: “I’m near ecstatic*.

“This is a great day for public health and for the potential to get us all out of the circumstances we’re now in.”

The Pfizer vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people across six countries without any major side effects being reported.

The company was likely to apply for the vaccine to be registered in the US by the end of the month.

The vaccine can be produced in large quantities quickly and Australia ordered 10 million doses in a deal announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.

Australia also has orders for the Oxford University vaccine candidate, which was expected to deliver results soon, and a University of Queensland vaccine candidate.

media_cameraUK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford, UK on September 18, 2020, where he met scientists who are leading the COVID-19 vaccine research. Picture: AFP

Scientists had hoped for a vaccine that would be 50 per cent effective, making the results released on Monday night remarkable.

The Pfizer version uses the body to create an immune response, but there is no actual virus in the dose so it can be manufactured faster.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said: “Today is a great day for science and humanity.

“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 overcapacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

The company had already started producing the vaccine before the results of the trials were known and can make up to 50 million doses by the end of the year.

Pfizer has plans to make 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The results were based on the first interim* analysis of a Phase 3 study, which found 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants.

Of those, 86 had been given a placebo*, meaning that it was up to 90 per cent effective.

The trial will continue until there are 164 cases among participants.

Global financial markets soared on news of the successful coronavirus vaccine trial and Pfizer shares increased in value more than nine per cent.

ANOTHER VIRUS-FREE DAY FOR VICTORIA
Victoria has recorded its 11th straight day of zero new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

There is just one case with an unknown source and four active cases across the state.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after Premier Daniel Andrews announced an easing of restrictions across the state on Sunday as Victoria builds towards COVID-normal.

Melbourne’s 25km radius rule has been removed, while the “ring of steel” separating the city from regional Victoria is also gone.

But health authorities are still urging Victorians to be cautious and continue to come forward for testing.

GLOBAL CASES PASS 50 MILLION
The vaccine news comes as global coronavirus infections have exceeded 50 million, with a second wave of the virus in the past 30 days accounting for a quarter of the total number of cases since the pandemic began.

October was the worst month for the pandemic so far, with the US becoming the first country to report more than 100,000 daily cases.

President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans to wear masks.

President-Elect Joe Biden Delivers Remarks On Coronavirus And US Economy media_cameraUS President-elect Joe Biden holds a protective mask as he speaks to the media after receiving a briefing on COVID-19 on November 09, 2020. Picture: Getty Images/AFP

A surge in Europe also contributed to the rise. Europe, with about 12 million cases, is the worst-affected region, overtaking Latin America.

The region is recording about one million new infections every three days or so, according to a Reuters analysis. That is 51 per cent of the global total.

France is recording 54,440 cases a day on the latest seven-day average, a higher rate than India with a far bigger population.

Despite the positive news of an imminent* vaccine, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “we absolutely cannot rely” on the news of the vaccine as a solution to the pandemic and the “biggest mistake we could make now (is to) slacken our resolve*.”

GLOSSARY

  • expectations: what you expect to happen
  • heartening: giving heart; making you feel positive
  • ecstatic: overjoyed
  • milestone: a significant stage in the development of something
  • interim: provisional; until the final stage
  • placebo: something given that will have no therapeutic affect but helps in testing a medicine or vaccine
  • imminent: about to happen
  • resolve: firm determination to succeed

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many doses of the vaccine is Pfizer planning to make in 2021?
  2. Explain two changes to coronavirus-related restrictions in Victoria in recent days.
  3. What is Joe Biden urging people to do?
  4. What is happening in France?
  5. Who is the UK Prime Minister?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Vaccine Hope
If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed in the near future (hopefully!) how will that change how we currently live with the virus and how it has changed our lives?

Fill out the table below with how it will affect the following industries and individuals.

How would a vaccine affect these industries and individuals? media_cameraHow would a vaccine affect these industries and individuals?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
“Global financial markets soared on news of the successful coronavirus vaccine trial and Pfizer shares increased in value more than nine per cent”.

What are the financial incentives for these big pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine to eradicate the coronavirus?

Do you think they are more motivated to create the vaccine to save lives or to make money? Explain your answer.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Ethical, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Read with Kung Fu Punctuation
Pair up with the article between you and stand up to make it easy to demonstrate your Kung Fu Punctuation.

Practice reading one sentence at a time. Now read it again, while acting out the punctuation as you read.

Read and act 3 sentences before swapping with your partner.

Have 2 turns each.

Now as a challenge ask your partner to read a sentence out loud while you try and act out the punctuation. Can you keep up?

Swap over?

Try acting out 2 sentences.

Are you laughing yet?

Have fun acting out your punctuation.

HAVE YOUR SAY: When do you think there will be a coronavirus vaccine? Do you think there will be a vaccine?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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