Pfizer claims COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective

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Pfizer said Monday that an early peek at the data on its coronavirus vaccine suggests the shots may be a robust 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, putting the company on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The announcement, less than a week after a presidential election that was seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump's handling of the crisis, was a rare and major piece of encouraging news lately in the battle against the scourge that has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide, including almost a quarter-million in the U.S. alone. Pharmaceutical companies and various countries are in a global race to develop a vaccine against the virus.

"We're in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope," Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer's senior vice-president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. "We're very encouraged."

Monday's announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries. Some participants got the vaccine, while others got dummy shots.

Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those infections and cautioned that the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

Authorities have stressed it's unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and initial supplies will be rationed.

-- with files from CTV News --