Pfizer and BioNTech's preliminary analysis — suggesting their vaccine was 90% effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus disease — created some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
Why it matters: 90% efficacy is on the high end of what experts were hoping for, and Pfizer's good — albeit preliminary — news is also an encouraging sign for how well other, similar vaccines could work.
Between the lines: The Pfizer vaccine targets what's called the "spike protein" of the virus. So do all of the other vaccines being developed by major manufacturers working with Operation Warp Speed, STAT's Helen Branswell writes.
- "There was always a discussion: Is the spike protein the right target? Well, now we know it's the right target," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told STAT. "So, it's not only immediate good news, it really is optimistic about what's going to roll out in the next several months with the other vaccines."
- A highly effective vaccine could also convince people that getting it is worthwhile. "Vaccine hesitancy diminishes proportionately inversely with the efficacy of a vaccine," Fauci said.
Yes, but: One big outstanding question is whether the Pfizer vaccine blocked mostly mild cases, or some severe ones too.
What we're watching: Millions of Americans could possibly be vaccinated by the end of the year.
- But a lot of things still have to go right, including the complicated logistics of distributing vaccines across the country, determining who should get them and how, and then ensuring recipients get both shots of the vaccine.
Go deeper: Axios Re:Cap interviews Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about vaccine data, distribution, politics, and how he reacted upon receiving the news.