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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pfizer yesterday took a giant step toward a COVID-19 vaccine, reporting that its vaccine candidate was effective in over 90% of uninfected clinical trial patients.

Reality check: It's a giant and welcome development, but the pandemic will be with us long after vaccine distribution begins.

The Pfizer vaccine is not a silver bullet. Its efficacy is much higher than the 50% threshold set by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), but could still leave tens of millions of vaccinated Americans at risk.

This means that many pandemic protocols are likely to remain in place, either by law or by habit, and some businesses already are preparing for this new normal — including startups that developed new products and services during the pandemic.

  • Sid Satish is CEO of Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision company that originally focused on surgical bleeding. This year it developed an at-home rapid COVID test, and Satish tells Axios that he expects "rapid testing will be a long-term necessity as a risk reduction method."
  • Seth Sternberg is CEO of Honor, a provider of tech-enabled senior care services, who tells Axios that he expects its pandemic-related spend to keep paying dividends, as services like care-provided screenings will continue to be needed.

By the numbers: Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses available by year-end and 1.2 billion doses available during 2021.

  • Each regimen requires two shots, so halve those figures to determine the number of people who can be treated.
  • The U.S. government already has purchased 100 million doses, with an option to purchase another 500 million. That could theoretically cover America's 255 million adults, and most of those under 18 (although Pfizer just began testing on teens and no vaccine developer has yet enrolled kids).
  • And this is just for the Pfizer vaccine. Three others are in Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S.

The bottom line: Investors yesterday flipped the pandemic trade, buying into areas like travel and selling off work-from-home names like Zoom, but the future is most likely to be a mixture of the old and the new.

Go deeper

Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment"

Moncef Slaoui in the Rose Garden on Nov. 13. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "isolated from a political environment" and that a change in administration "doesn't, frankly, make a difference" on its efficacy.

Why it matters: Slaoui told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he has not yet had contact with Joe Biden's transition team, as the president-elect prepares to inherit one of the country's biggest crises ahead of an expected vaccine distribution effort that would require massive logistical cooperation between states and the federal government.

In photos: Americans wait at food banks before Thanksgiving

Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site in Clermont, Fla., Nov. 21. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Thousands of Americans waited in long lines at food banks in the week before Thanksgiving to pick up turkeys, canned goods, broccoli and other vegetables.

Why it matters: As the holiday season approaches, families across the U.S. are in need of food assistance due to chronic unemployment and economic hardship caused by COVID-19 — and many food pantries already served an unprecedented number of people this spring.

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to continue quarantine after receiving negative COVID test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Sunday that a previously inconclusive coronavirus test came back negative, but she will continue to follow CDC guidelines and self-isolate until she's able to get a more conclusive negative result.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.