GEORGETOWN: Guyanese scientist in Pfizer COVID vaccine team

GEORGETOWN: Guyanese scientist in Pfizer COVID vaccine team

GEORGETOWN: Guyanese-born scientist Vidia
Roopchand, who is employed with Pfizer Inc is assuring that all safety
standards were observed during the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech

Roopchand is one of several
scientists who were involved in the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech
vaccine called BNT162b2.

noted that Pfizer and BioNTech began collaborating in 2018 to develop a
vaccine for influenza and extended the collaboration in March 2020 with
the launch of “Project Lightspeed” to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

He disclosed
that the Phase 1 clinical trials began in the US and Germany in April and
were designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and potential efficacy
of up to four mRNA vaccine candidates and to select which
vaccine candidate and dose should be taken forward for future clinical

One vaccine
candidate – BNT162b2, was selected for the phase 3 clinical trial, which
began in July with more 44,000 participants. He added that the final
efficacy analysis in the ongoing Phase 3 study demonstrated a
vaccine efficacy rate of 95% in participants without prior COVID-19
infection and also in participants with prior COVID-19 infection. He noted
that the effectiveness of the vaccine was consistent across age, gender,
race and ethnicity demographics. “The observed efficacy in adults over 65
years of age was over 94%,” he said. He added that BNT162b2 was selected
based on an extensive review of preclinical and clinical data from Phase 1
and 2 clinical trials.

In addition,
he said, the Pfizer-BioNTech team accelerated the development process by
doing some operational steps in parallel rather than sequentially as would
normally be done. He explained that the investigator site selection process
began earlier than normal and more persons were employed to
give operations the support and flexibility needed. He added that they
also invested upfront in certain areas, such as manufacturing, in order to
be ready to execute as decisions were made.  

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