All Eyes on Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Developed in CT

During a press conference Monday evening Governor Ned Lamont talked about the resurgence of Covid-19 in Connecticut.

The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in the state doubled in the last few weeks.

There were 3,338 additional cases of Covid-19 in just the previous three days.

The three co-chairs of the Biden-Harris transition Covid-19 task force team are all doctors affiliated with the Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut. Lamont said the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Plan will double the number of drive-through testing sites, and put research into next generation testing, including wastewater and saliva. The Biden-Harris plan creates a Pandemic Testing Board to ramp up production of testing.

Lamont said CT is conducting 75,000 Binax tests on a weekly basis – with results within 15 minutes.

“With more testing, you’re seeing more infections,” he added. “I still would tell you that wearing a mask in the third grade is one of the safest places to be.”

Lamont said the good news was that Pfizer, with labs in Groton, CT, along with BioNTech, had developed a vaccine that is strongly effective.

Early data from a trial of 43,538 people indicated the vaccine was 90+% effective.

Preliminary FDA approval could come in the next month.

Dr. John Burkhardt, senior VP of Global Drug Safety Research and Development at Pfizer.

Dr. John Burkhardt, senior VP of Global Drug Safety Research and Development at Pfizer, joined the press conference.

He said the three major components of delivering a vaccine were efficacy, safety and continuous manufacturing with quality.

“Today we reported on the first of those: an interim readout that includes 94 patients with the 90+% protection rate against infection,” he said.

“We’d like to get at least 60 days post second injection (it takes two injections to immunize a patient), and at least 6,000 of the volunteers in the study. We need a couple more weeks to reach that milestone,” Burkhardt said.

“No corners were cut with this vaccine,” Burkhardt explained. “We followed tried and true methodology. …What’s been quick is we undertook the manufacturing in parallel. Normally you would not spend $1 billion to manufacture a product that may not work. You wait and see whether it works and then manufacture. We did that at risk. That’s saving us time.”

Priority for the vaccine would go to health care workers, front line staff , the elderly, those at high risk, those with co-morbidities, and people in nursing homes and hot spots.

The vaccine must be shipped at very cold temperatures, far below freezing, which will be a logistical challenge.

Burkhardt said there was “an army” of experienced and talented people at Pfizer working on logistics for the supply chain, and he was optimistic it could be done precisely and correctly.

When the vaccine is rolled out, local health departments and hospitals would likely be the primary vaccinators, at least at first, when demand is greater than supply of vaccines.

Burkhardt said he anticipated and hoped for at least 5-10 million doses of the vaccine, but up to 50 million, by the end of this year.

To clarify, he explained since two vaccinations are required, 50 million doses would immunize 25 million people.

“We could be at 1 billion or more next year as manufacturing takes it into high gear,” he said.

Outdoor Dining Extended to February 9: Get Your Jackets Out

In response to the uptick in Covid-19 in CT, Governor Lamont last week reverted Covid-19 guidance back to phase 2. Restaurants can operate at 50% capacity (down from 75%), with a maximum of six people to a table, (down from 8 people per table). Private gatherings are now limited to 10 people, whether indoors or outdoors.

Greenwich P&Z had a possible outdoor dining zoning reg on their Thursday night agenda, but learned during their meeting that a new executive order 9K, would extend outdoor dining through Feb 9, 2021.

“Timing in life is everything,” said Katie DeLuca, Greenwich’s P&Z director. “Because of the executive order, P&Z didn’t have to change the town’s zoning regulations.”

“So, get your jackets out,” she added.