The U.S. Food and Drug Administration met with its vaccines advisory panel of experts on Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer's (PFE 0.52%) coronavirus vaccine candidate. The FDA agreed with the panel and granted Pfizer and partner BioNTech (BNTX 1.48%) Emergency Use Authorization for the product. But the two months of follow-up data on trial participants reported so far isn't enough to answer all questions about the vaccine. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 11, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss key elements Pfizer's vaccine must address in the coming months.
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Corinne Cardina: On a granular level, what data were these experts evaluating? Of course, safety and efficacy, but how were they looking at how this mRNA vaccine candidate was actually effective?
Adria Cimino: Well, a couple of key points. First of all, everyone has been focused on neutralizing antibodies. For all of these vaccines, that's been a key point all of these months, and that's because these are the antibodies that really block infections. That's the guidance we have to go by. So far that's looked really good. Now the one thing is obviously we just have the data, the two-month data. We don't know how long these antibodies will last. That's been a question everyone's had, and we'll have to wait to learn about that. Another important thing is about the performance in age groups, in particularly older people because they've been so vulnerable to coronavirus. Now, Pfizer said that efficacy was 94% in adults 65 and older. That's great. About 21% of participants receiving vaccine were age 65 and above, but only 4.3% were age 75 and older. There's still that really elderly population that we don't know about yet. We don't really have a whole lot of data on. Another point was also younger participants and in fact, there have been some reports that two of the "no's" came from panelists who were concerned about the 16 and 17-year-olds who got the vaccine, just because there weren't a lot of them. So, we don't have a lot of data for the younger people either, even though coronavirus has not been really dangerous for that population.
Corinne Cardina: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Another thing to note is that the 16-and 17-year-olds, they're not the ones who are getting the vaccine first. It ends up being a moot point for the time being because the people getting the vaccine first are of course, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and also front line healthcare workers -- and I don't know any teenage doctors thankfully. [laughs]