You’ve probably heard this by now but Pfizer and BioNTech have announced a Covid vaccine with a 90% efficacy rate, but what exactly does this mean for skiing in 2021?

We already know that almost half of the population of the hardest hit Austrian ski resorts have developed Covid antibodies, but how long will it take for vaccines to become effective?

closed austrian apres ski bar due to coronavirus

How long does it take for the Covid vaccine to work?

Pfizer’s Phase 3 trial involved 43,538 participants. They received two doses of either the immunisation or a placebo, with 90% of those who received the real vaccine protected from the virus within 28 days.

 

When will the new Covid-19 vaccine become available?

Currently, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month, so the first jabs could be available concurrently with the easing of lockdown regulations, but it’s more likely that regulatory issues will mean the first doses will be available towards the end of the year.

A vaccine – alongside better treatments – is seen as the best way of getting out of the recurring restrictions that have been imposed across the world.

Globally, there are around a dozen vaccines in the final stages of testing – known as a Phase 3 trial – but this is the first to show any results.

It uses a completely experimental approach – that involves injecting part of the virus’s RNA (genetic code) – in order to train the immune system.

 

How can I get vaccinated?

To save time, the two companies rolled the dice and began manufacturing large quantities of the vaccine before they knew whether or not it would actually work.  They’ve stated that they’ll be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

The UK government has purchased 30 million doses.  As the vaccine is only effective when administered in two doses, two weeks apart, this equates to 15 million vaccinations – far short of enough to be able to vaccinate all of the 68 million people in the UK.

The first to receive the vaccine in the UK will be healthcare workers, the general public can expect the first doses available to them to arrive in the new year – Kate binham, chairman of the government’s vaccine task force, said 10 million doses – enough for 5 million people – could potentially be available by January.

 

How effective is the new vaccine?

90% efficacy – meaning 9 out of every 10 people who get the vaccine become immune to Covid 19 – is an incredible result that leaves a lot of room for Pfizer and BioNTech should the efficacy decrease slightly during more prolonged testing.   

According to the World Health Organization, no vaccine is 100% effective and the US’s Food and Drug Administration requires only a 50% efficacy rate to approve a Covid vaccine.

 

What does the new Covid-19 vaccine mean for skiing in 2020/2021?

Based in the Alps year-round, we’re privy to a lot of gossip and rumours – digging through them can be difficult.  

Ski resorts and local governing bodies already have extensive plans on how to operate in the age of Covid, however, the reality is that national and international restrictions are going to play a part in how the ski season unfolds this winter. 

The most plausible intel we’ve received before today is that many ski areas – and the companies that operate within them – have been planning for the contingency of a massively truncated winter season, running from just before Christmas to just after half term.

A skier in a green jacket enjoys an off-piste ski lesson on her way back towards the village of St Christophe
A skier enjoys a late season snowfall during her off-piste ski lesson on her way back towards the village of St Christophe

In the hours since this morning’s vaccine announcement, many industry players have told us they are now looking much more positively about the odds of skiing all the way through Easter.

With the first doses available in January 2021, there will be skiers with certified immunity by the start of February, with those numbers increasing through March and April.  The chances of late season skiing have just increased significantly!

Of course, whilst it’s still far too early to predict exactly what will happen this winter, it’s a very promising sign and travel related stocks have already begun to skyrocket.

To keep up to date, follow our ongoing Covid and skiing news page – it’s regularly updated with the latest information we get on the ground.

Onwards and upwards! 🚀

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