How Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine works: mRNA

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The vaccine uses a new, innovative form of biotechnology to make the body produce antibodies to protect itself against the virus. In January, as cases of the new, mysterious coronavirus were growing in China—but two months before the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic—a handful of small biotech companies began scrambling to develop vaccines using an as-yet-unproven technology platform that relies on something called messenger RNA, usually shortened to mRNA. One was Moderna, which completed its first clinical batch of a vaccine by February and launched human trials in March, faster than any other vaccine in history. Another was BioNTech, a German company that later partnered with Pfizer to make a vaccine that the companies now say has been proven highly successful in trials, reaching 90% effectiveness. Read Full Story

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Sorry, the COVID-19 vaccine won’t make life go back to normal right away

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If you were hoping that the new COVID-19 vaccines could make it possible to stop wearing masks and social distancing, think again. Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine might get FDA emergency use authorization in a few weeks, and a small group of Americans might begin getting shots in December. Moderna’s vaccine might quickly follow. But even for those who can get vaccinated soon—potentially 20 million people in the U.S., out of a population of more than 320 million—life won’t be able to go back to normal yet. Read Full Story

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Pfizer’s CEO: 3 key decisions helped it develop a COVID-19 vaccine in record time

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In an interview with Fast Company Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Mehta, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla credited quick decision-making, trust in science, and artificial intelligence software for his company’s ability to create a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time. Last year, Pfizer was one of several pharmaceutical companies to take on an incredible challenge: make a life-saving vaccine in a fraction of the time it usually takes to do so. Over the course of 2020, Pfizer and others tested vaccine candidates as hundreds of thousands of people died from COVID-19. Pfizer’s success at creating a vaccine with 95% efficacy in record time has landed it, along with its partner BioNTech and fellow vaccine maker Moderna, atop Fast Company ‘s Most Innovative Companies list for 2021 . Read Full Story

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This Swedish startup is making powdered vaccines that don’t need to be kept cold

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Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. A powdered vaccine wouldn’t need refrigeration at all. When Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use—which might happen as soon as December—it’s not going to show up at your local pharmacy. That’s partly because it needs to stay incredibly cold to work: It must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, far colder than is possible in an ordinary freezer. In the developing world, even vaccines that can be stored in refrigerators present a huge logistical challenge . A Swedish startup is working on an alternative: technology that can convert any vaccine to a powdered version that can survive without refrigeration. Read Full Story

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8 ways healthcare providers can build public trust about the COVID-19 vaccines

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What are some of the best ways to make taking the vaccine a social norm? Social and behavioral psychologists, medical anthropologists, behavioral economists, neuroscientists, and political communications scholars have suggestions. The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNtech announced November 20, 2020, that they will seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. On Nov. 16, Moderna announced that a vaccine it has been working on has been shown to be close to 95% effective. Read Full Story

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