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Illustration by Security Management

COVID-19 Vaccine Progress Sparks Excitement

Drugmakers are in a rush to the finish line as two companies announced early results from COVID-19 vaccine tests so far this month. On Monday, Moderna announced that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, based on a continuing study. A week ago, Pfizer and BioNTech reported that their vaccine was more than 90 percent effective, according to The New York Times.

Organizations, events, and people have largely been waiting on an effective vaccine to move forward with reopening plans or restarting travel and other typical activities. The announcements from the two companies were more than welcome; although researchers caution that neither vaccine will be widely available for months, and it could take a year or more to vaccine a sufficient number of people to significantly curb the effects and spread of the virus.

Pfizer and Moderna are not alone in the race for a vaccine. Ten other companies worldwide are in late-stage trials of vaccines, and more than 50 other candidates are in early stages of testing.

Originally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had said that coronavirus vaccines needed to be at least 50 percent effective to be approved. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “I had been saying I would be satisfied with a 75 percent effective vaccine. Aspirationally, you would like to see 90, 95 percent, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we’d be good, but 94.5 percent is very impressive.”

The news is particularly welcome to the business travel industry, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus and subsequent travel restrictions. According to a September poll from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the majority of business travel professionals said that the announcement of an effective vaccine for COVID-19 would have the most influence on business travel planning for 2021. With an effective vaccine or public health measures, 48 percent travel managers expect that their company’s travel volume will return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels within three years.

Current business travel outlooks remain relatively grim, however. According to the results of an October GBTA poll, 90 percent of companies have canceled or suspended most or all international trips, and 68 percent have canceled or suspended domestic business travel. Business travel is largely grounded for China—95 percent of companies have canceled or suspended all trips to China, and other COVID-19 hotspots are also seeing restricted business travel. Companies have suspended or canceled travel to Asia-Pacific countries (93 percent), Latin America (92 percent), Europe (88 percent), Canada (88 percent), and the United States (78 percent).

For more on business travel in the time of the coronavirus, check back with Security Management for the upcoming December 2020 issue.