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Pfizer needed volunteers to help its COVID-19 vaccine trials. Horry County obliged.

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Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. They will need to stored at extremely frigid temperatures if they make it to market. File/AP

MYRTLE BEACH — Over the past three months, the Grand Strand did its part to aid the drugmaker Pfizer, which announced Monday morning that it had developed a groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine that has shown to be 90 percent effective.

A pair of Main Street Physicians Care facilities in Little River and Loris hosted an undisclosed number of the 43,000 total volunteers since late July, with the patients being given either two doses of the vaccine or a placebo.

The two locations were the only outlets utilized in South Carolina, according to a map on Pfizer’s website.

According to Pfizer, the vaccine had an efficacy rate higher than 90 percent at seven days following the second dose, which indicates that near full protection is seen at 28 days.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had indicated it expected a 50 percent efficacy rate from any potential vaccine.

The research isn’t done, as the Pfizer vaccine has picked up 43,538 volunteers since late July 28, with 38,955 having received a second dose of the vaccine.

According to Pfizer, 30 percent of U.S. trial sites include racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, while 42 percent of the international contingent fall into this category.

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Pfizer’s stated goal is to reach 164 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while also indicating that it will evaluate whether the vaccine will work with severe cases of the virus, while also gathering data on whether it can provide long-term protection, even for those that have already recovered.

“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,” Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, said in a press release. “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 Monday’s news, Pfizer said that it intends to produce 50 million vaccine doses this year and 1.3 billion in 2021.

The Pfizer vaccine was not a part of Operation Warp Speed, which is the U.S. government’s COVID-19 vaccine attempts.

According to Pfizer, the U.S. government is spending nearly $2 billion to help produce the vaccine but is not helping with the testing nor the future distribution.

“When we embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what we aspired to achieve,” Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder and CEO, said in a press release. “Especially today, while we are all in the midst of a second wave and many of us in lockdown, we appreciate even more how important this milestone is on our path towards ending this pandemic and for all of us to regain a sense of normality.”

Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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