India’s total case count mounted to more than 8.5 million with 38,074 new cases reported today. While the number of cases on a daily basis has come down by a huge margin in comparison to September figures, the pandemic is nowhere near its end. So much so, that elections are being held in these extraordinary times.

But there seems to be good news coming from one of the leading vaccines’ candidates in the fray. Pfizer announced a breakthrough with their vaccine being 90% effective in the phase 3 trial.

Here’s all you need to know.

US drug-maker Pfizer has developed this vaccine with German pharma company BioNTech. Pfizer has released preliminary data from late-stage human trials and has claimed that the vaccine is 90% effective. Later this month, the vaccine is headed for a review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people and no safety concerns have been raised. Pfizer and BioNTech need to get regulators to sign off on the shot before it can start shipping vaccines to those considered most in need by the government. Healthcare workers and people living in nursing homes will likely top that list. The company hopes to deliver 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

The phase 3 trials of this vaccine candidate began on July 27 and has so far enrolled 43,538 participants, 38,955 of whom had received a second dose as of November 8.

What type of vaccine is it?

Pfizer has developed this vaccine using mRNA technology. Unlike other vaccine candidates, mRNA vaccines are synthetically developed. This vaccine is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein of the novel coronavirus. Vaccines developed using mRNA can be manufactured at a large scale.

How will it reach people?

Even if the vaccine is available soon, distribution is going to be a huge task. The main issue is that the vaccine, which is based on a novel technology that uses synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the virus, needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below. Which is going to be a task for big hospital chains as well, let alone selling it through chemists across the country.

Albert Bourla, CEO, Pfizer, in a statement upon the release of the results said:

The results demonstrate that our vaccine using mRNA technology can help prevent Covid-19 in the majority of people who receive it. This means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global pandemic.

Will this Vaccine candidate receive FDA approval?

The preliminary data released today was of only 94 volunteers. The company cannot apply for FDA approval based on this data, they will need to collect more safety data for the approval.