Pfizer maintains the BioNTech vaccine was tested but the  trials were not designed to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness against the transmission of the coronavirus disease-causing virus but rather its ability to prevent infection

In an email interview with Pfizer South Africa’s external communications manager Willis Angira, explained the phase 3 clinical trial (published in November 2020) was powered to evaluate the efficacy of BNT162b2 to prevent disease caused by SARS-CoV2, including severe disease. 

“The pivotal BioNTech vaccine clinical trial met two critical endpoints including the efficacy end-point, which is the prevention of confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 infection and the secondary end-point, which was the prevention of severe disease.” 

This clarity comes after the vaccine manufacturers were accused of admitting that the jab was not tested for preventing transmission at a COVID hearing in the European Parliament recently.

The member of the European Parliament, Rob Roos, who asked the question about testing, then tweeted a video referring to the COVID vaccine passport as a “big lie” and claimed that the vaccine was “never tested on preventing transmission.” 

In the video, Roos dubs what the Dutch people were told by the Prime Minister and Health Minister about the vaccine’s efficacy as “complete nonsense”, stating that the Pfizer director’s admission to not testing the vaccine on preventing transmission removes the basis for the COVID passport. 

A COVID passport, also known as a vaccine passport, refers to the proof of vaccination that many countries require from individuals to travel and upon entry. A strategy employed during the pandemic to manage the spread of the coronavirus. The video received wide support from social media, and several users supported the implication that the implementation of the vaccine passport was based on the vaccines preventing transmission. 

Tested? Yes – but not against transmission of coronavirus 

The data for the clinical trial on the efficacy of the vaccine against the endpoints underlined by Angira shows that they were met. The vaccine does prevent severe disease and symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

The data also shows public statements in which researchers and experts agree that the question of the vaccines’ effect on virus transmission remains unanswered.

“Regulatory agencies across the globe, including the EMA, have authorised the use of BioNTech for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These authorisations are based on robust and independent evaluation of the scientific data on quality, safety and efficacy.” 

Angira noted that data from other world studies complement the clinical trial data and provide additional evidence that the vaccine effectively protects against severe disease.

As of 18 September 2022, he said that Pfizer has delivered more than 3.8 billion vaccines to 181 countries and territories in every region of the world, helping protect billions of people from COVID-19 since its regulatory approval.

Preventing severe disease is the goal

Foster Mohale from the National Department of Health agreed that Pfizer did not claim that a clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine was testing whether the vaccine prevents coronavirus transmission to other people. The aim of the drug trial was to study whether the vaccine was safe and if it prevented disease from SARS-CoV-2.

He referred to the announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2020, which authorised the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. Mohale emphasised that preventing transmission was never required for the approval to use the COVID vaccines.

“The agency said there was no data available on whether the shot prevented transmission from person to person. Thus, as a country, we will continue to use this vaccine because it prevents severe disease, and that is what we want.” – Health-e News