Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine


Enrollment and Randomization.

The diagram represents all enrolled participants through November 14, 2020. The safety subset (those with a median of 2 months of follow-up, in accordance with application requirements for Emergency Use Authorization) is based on an October 9, 2020, data cut-off date. The further procedures that one participant in the placebo group declined after dose 2 (lower right corner of the diagram) were those involving collection of blood and nasal swab samples.

Demographic Characteristics of the Participants in the Main Safety Population.

Between July 27, 2020, and November 14, 2020, a total of 44,820 persons were screened, and 43,548 persons 16 years of age or older underwent randomization at 152 sites worldwide (United States, 130 sites; Argentina, 1; Brazil, 2; South Africa, 4; Germany, 6; and Turkey, 9) in the phase 2/3 portion of the trial. A total of 43,448 participants received injections: 21,720 received BNT162b2 and 21,728 received placebo (Figure 1). At the data cut-off date of October 9, a total of 37,706 participants had a median of at least 2 months of safety data available after the second dose and contributed to the main safety data set. Among these 37,706 participants, 49% were female, 83% were White, 9% were Black or African American, 28% were Hispanic or Latinx, 35% were obese (body mass index [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters] of at least 30.0), and 21% had at least one coexisting condition. The median age was 52 years, and 42% of participants were older than 55 years of age (Table 1 and Table S2).


Local Reactogenicity

Local and Systemic Reactions Reported within 7 Days after Injection of BNT162b2 or Placebo, According to Age Group.

Data on local and systemic reactions and use of medication were collected with electronic diaries from participants in the reactogenicity subset (8,183 participants) for 7 days after each vaccination. Solicited injection-site (local) reactions are shown in Panel A. Pain at the injection site was assessed according to the following scale: mild, does not interfere with activity; moderate, interferes with activity; severe, prevents daily activity; and grade 4, emergency department visit or hospitalization. Redness and swelling were measured according to the following scale: mild, 2.0 to 5.0 cm in diameter; moderate, >5.0 to 10.0 cm in diameter; severe, >10.0 cm in diameter; and grade 4, necrosis or exfoliative dermatitis (for redness) and necrosis (for swelling). Systemic events and medication use are shown in Panel B. Fever categories are designated in the key; medication use was not graded. Additional scales were as follows: fatigue, headache, chills, new or worsened muscle pain, new or worsened joint pain (mild: does not interfere with activity; moderate: some interference with activity; or severe: prevents daily activity), vomiting (mild: 1 to 2 times in 24 hours; moderate: >2 times in 24 hours; or severe: requires intravenous hydration), and diarrhea (mild: 2 to 3 loose stools in 24 hours; moderate: 4 to 5 loose stools in 24 hours; or severe: 6 or more loose stools in 24 hours); grade 4 for all events indicated an emergency department visit or hospitalization. 𝙸 bars represent 95% confidence intervals, and numbers above the 𝙸 bars are the percentage of participants who reported the specified reaction.

The reactogenicity subset included 8183 participants. Overall, BNT162b2 recipients reported more local reactions than placebo recipients. Among BNT162b2 recipients, mild-to-moderate pain at the injection site within 7 days after an injection was the most commonly reported local reaction, with less than 1% of participants across all age groups reporting severe pain (Figure 2). Pain was reported less frequently among participants older than 55 years of age (71% reported pain after the first dose; 66% after the second dose) than among younger participants (83% after the first dose; 78% after the second dose). A noticeably lower percentage of participants reported injection-site redness or swelling. The proportion of participants reporting local reactions did not increase after the second dose (Figure 2A), and no participant reported a grade 4 local reaction. In general, local reactions were mostly mild-to-moderate in severity and resolved within 1 to 2 days.

Systemic Reactogenicity

Systemic events were reported more often by younger vaccine recipients (16 to 55 years of age) than by older vaccine recipients (more than 55 years of age) in the reactogenicity subset and more often after dose 2 than dose 1 (Figure 2B). The most commonly reported systemic events were fatigue and headache (59% and 52%, respectively, after the second dose, among younger vaccine recipients; 51% and 39% among older recipients), although fatigue and headache were also reported by many placebo recipients (23% and 24%, respectively, after the second dose, among younger vaccine recipients; 17% and 14% among older recipients). The frequency of any severe systemic event after the first dose was 0.9% or less. Severe systemic events were reported in less than 2% of vaccine recipients after either dose, except for fatigue (in 3.8%) and headache (in 2.0%) after the second dose.

Fever (temperature, ≥38°C) was reported after the second dose by 16% of younger vaccine recipients and by 11% of older recipients. Only 0.2% of vaccine recipients and 0.1% of placebo recipients reported fever (temperature, 38.9 to 40°C) after the first dose, as compared with 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively, after the second dose. Two participants each in the vaccine and placebo groups reported temperatures above 40.0°C. Younger vaccine recipients were more likely to use antipyretic or pain medication (28% after dose 1; 45% after dose 2) than older vaccine recipients (20% after dose 1; 38% after dose 2), and placebo recipients were less likely (10 to 14%) than vaccine recipients to use the medications, regardless of age or dose. Systemic events including fever and chills were observed within the first 1 to 2 days after vaccination and resolved shortly thereafter.

Daily use of the electronic diary ranged from 90 to 93% for each day after the first dose and from 75 to 83% for each day after the second dose. No difference was noted between the BNT162b2 group and the placebo group.

Adverse Events

Adverse event analyses are provided for all enrolled 43,252 participants, with variable follow-up time after dose 1 (Table S3). More BNT162b2 recipients than placebo recipients reported any adverse event (27% and 12%, respectively) or a related adverse event (21% and 5%). This distribution largely reflects the inclusion of transient reactogenicity events, which were reported as adverse events more commonly by vaccine recipients than by placebo recipients. Sixty-four vaccine recipients (0.3%) and 6 placebo recipients (<0.1%) reported lymphadenopathy. Few participants in either group had severe adverse events, serious adverse events, or adverse events leading to withdrawal from the trial. Four related serious adverse events were reported among BNT162b2 recipients (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, right axillary lymphadenopathy, paroxysmal ventricular arrhythmia, and right leg paresthesia). Two BNT162b2 recipients died (one from arteriosclerosis, one from cardiac arrest), as did four placebo recipients (two from unknown causes, one from hemorrhagic stroke, and one from myocardial infarction). No deaths were considered by the investigators to be related to the vaccine or placebo. No Covid-19–associated deaths were observed. No stopping rules were met during the reporting period. Safety monitoring will continue for 2 years after administration of the second dose of vaccine.


Vaccine Efficacy against Covid-19 at Least 7 days after the Second Dose. Vaccine Efficacy Overall and by Subgroup in Participants without Evidence of Infection before 7 Days after Dose 2. Efficacy of BNT162b2 against Covid-19 after the First Dose.

Shown is the cumulative incidence of Covid-19 after the first dose (modified intention-to-treat population). Each symbol represents Covid-19 cases starting on a given day; filled symbols represent severe Covid-19 cases. Some symbols represent more than one case, owing to overlapping dates. The inset shows the same data on an enlarged y axis, through 21 days. Surveillance time is the total time in 1000 person-years for the given end point across all participants within each group at risk for the end point. The time period for Covid-19 case accrual is from the first dose to the end of the surveillance period. The confidence interval (CI) for vaccine efficacy (VE) is derived according to the Clopper–Pearson method.

Among 36,523 participants who had no evidence of existing or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, 8 cases of Covid-19 with onset at least 7 days after the second dose were observed among vaccine recipients and 162 among placebo recipients. This case split corresponds to 95.0% vaccine efficacy (95% confidence interval [CI], 90.3 to 97.6; Table 2). Among participants with and those without evidence of prior SARS CoV-2 infection, 9 cases of Covid-19 at least 7 days after the second dose were observed among vaccine recipients and 169 among placebo recipients, corresponding to 94.6% vaccine efficacy (95% CI, 89.9 to 97.3). Supplemental analyses indicated that vaccine efficacy among subgroups defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, obesity, and presence of a coexisting condition was generally consistent with that observed in the overall population (Table 3 and Table S4). Vaccine efficacy among participants with hypertension was analyzed separately but was consistent with the other subgroup analyses (vaccine efficacy, 94.6%; 95% CI, 68.7 to 99.9; case split: BNT162b2, 2 cases; placebo, 44 cases). Figure 3 shows cases of Covid-19 or severe Covid-19 with onset at any time after the first dose (mITT population) (additional data on severe Covid-19 are available in Table S5). Between the first dose and the second dose, 39 cases in the BNT162b2 group and 82 cases in the placebo group were observed, resulting in a vaccine efficacy of 52% (95% CI, 29.5 to 68.4) during this interval and indicating early protection by the vaccine, starting as soon as 12 days after the first dose.