Markets hit record highs on vaccine optimism

Global markets hit record highs on Monday, as news of the first successful late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials gave investors hopes that the economy may emerge from a year of pandemic-driven crisis.

Drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was proving to be 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in previously uninfected patients, fuelling hopes that an end to the pandemic nightmare is within reach. The data is based on a phase-3 trial involving 43,538 participants.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek US emergency use authorisation later this month.

"Today is a great day for science and humanity," Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, said. "We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen."