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Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020 11:00 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020 05:31 [IST]

A ray of hope

At last some good news has penetrated the gloom of the Covid pandemic. After all the bitter trial and error, it’s widely agreed the only key to release us from life in rolling lockdown is the discovery of a vaccine. Now it seems fate may have stretched out a hand in the darkness to offer one.
 Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced Monday that their vaccine candidate prevented over 90% of infections in an early look at results from their 44,000-person clinical trial.  They are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns with its candidate called BNT162b2.

Health experts said Pfizer’s results were positive for all Covid-19 vaccines currently in development since they show the shots are going after the right target and are a proof of the concept that the disease can be halted with vaccination.

It's fantastic news and a historic scientific accomplishment. The announcement is the most upbeat scientific advance so far in what has been a one-sided struggle. Small wonder then that some scientists were sufficiently enthused to describe yesterday as: “A great day for humanity.”

If trials continue on such a positive path, other companies will be able to get emergency clearance to roll it out, marking a unique triumph for scientific co-operation. Not only do we have the first effective vaccine, but the data also looks robust. Instead of evaluating the shot at the first possible moment, Pfizer waited for more data, which gives weight to the impressive results.

Currently there are 50.5 million cases of the virus worldwide. Of course these are early days: all the necessary caveats must be taken as given. Nonetheless this is the first indication that there may be some chance of seizing back control from a virus that has had us trapped for too long.

Some questions remain. We still don't know how well the vaccine works in subgroups such as the elderly. Nor does the initial press release discuss the extent to which the vaccine prevents severe disease, the ability to transmit the virus, or how long its protection lasts. It’s also unclear what the result may mean for other vaccine candidates.

There are many hurdles to be overcome yet, but Pfizer's vaccine test results are a welcome step in the right direction.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi