INTERNATIONAL. In a profoundly important development that could ultimately pave the way for the return of mass travel, US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that their COVID-19 vaccine – currently in final stage three trials – had shown an efficacy rate above 90% at seven days after the second dose.

That means protection from the virus is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the two-dose vaccination.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.

“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”

Based on current projections the partners expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion in 2021, for worldwide use.

Travel, travel retail and hotel stocks – hit hard by the impact of the pandemic – surged today as a result of the news. The Dufry share price has climbed by over +20% so far in the day with travel F&B specialists SSP and Autogrill up by over +56% and +37% respectively at time of writing (15.30 UK time).

Among airports, Fraport’s share leapt by nearly +30%, with Groupe ADP up by +23%. British Airways owner IAG saw its price leap by around +33%, easyJet climbed over +33% and Ryanair by over +12%.

The vaccine could eventually pave the way for the return of mass travel (social distancing at Abu Dhabi International Airport pictured)

The vaccine, whose efficacy was based on a study of 43,538 participants, will be submitted for emergency authorisation to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected in the third week of November.

Bourla added: “We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”

“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19. This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort,” said Professor Ugur Sahin, BioNTech Co-Founder and CEO.