SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — There’s growing excitement about the potential success of a COVID-19 vaccine and what it could mean for the country.
Big pharma giant Pfizer announced Monday morning that early reports show its vaccine has a 90% effective rate.
To give a sense of what that means, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the seasonal flu shot is, on average, about 45% effective.
As clinical trials continue, Pfizer is expected to apply for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the vaccine could be authorized for limited use by the end of the year.
Pfizer says that it plans to manufacture a billion doses by 2021 and that the vaccine would be free to Americans.
Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., a pediatric infectious disease specialist, called Pfizer’s announcement very encouraging. “This is really excellent news. This is a first step in understanding the benefit of a vaccine to prevent COVID infection.”
Bocchini also explained, “That’s really exciting data. The more effective the vaccine is, the better it is to help us get full control of the virus.”
As for when it may become available to the public is more difficult to answer with any great precision. Bocchini gave us a rough estimate.
“So we’re probably looking at as early would be probably January.”
Word of Pfizer’s vaccine is good news for people anxiously awaiting something to protect them from the virus.
“I do hope they have a vaccine because I’m sick of wearing this mask," said Shreveporter Jerice Hill, who has pre-existing conditions. "They need to come up with something; something!”
But Anthony Hughes said he could wait many more months until they’re convinced the vaccine is safe. “Ah yeah, I might. Yeah, I might, after I see the results.”
Then there’s Shreveport residents like Willie Davis, who says the time for action against COVID-19 is now. “I feel like anything will help. We gotta start somewhere to, to get to the finish line.”
Bocchini said the next huge task ahead is that of scaling up and distributing that vaccine throughout the country. “And each state is looking at a way to distribute this vaccine as equitably as possible.”
With the highest priority on people with potentially compromised immune systems, Bocchini and others say getting the vaccine to the general population may take much longer.
“That may take six to nine months before we have enough vaccine to be able to go forward with that.”
Bocchini concluded that it is important to consider that Pfizer’s vaccine will very likely not be the only one available in the not-too-distant future.
“The good news is that there are other vaccines that are in clinical trials as well. And so it’s very possible that multiple vaccines will be licensed and the supplies will increase even more rapidly.”