'A great day': COVID vaccine 90 per cent effective


One of the vaccine candidates that could soon be rolled out to Australians has had a major success in the latest phase of human trials.

The vaccine being developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in individuals who received two doses of the vaccine.

Pfizer CEO Dr Albert Bourla said it was a "great day".

"It is a great day for science, it is a great day for humanity," Dr Bourla said.

"You understand that the hopes of millions of people and millions of businesses and hundreds of governments that were felt on our shoulders. Now we can credibly tell them, 'I think we can see light at the end of the tunnel'."

"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. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks."

Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the ANU, told Sunrise he was waiting to see the final analysis of the vaccine but "any news is good news".

"Many of us were thinking that if we had a good COVID-19 vaccine then it would be about 55 to 60 per cent effective. 90 per cent is great," he said.

"We need to also see that data in a medical peer- reviewed journal to really analyse it closely… And of course, even if it holds up now, will it still hold up in six months or 12 months? We will never know that until that time and those milestones pass."

According to preliminary findings, protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two vaccine doses, and 28 days after the first.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, heavily criticised for his handling of the health crisis, described the breakthrough as "great news," while top US pandemic expert Anthony Fauci said the result was "extraordinary."

Researchers had previously cautioned that the vaccine may only be 60 or 70 per cent effective in preventing the virus.