Doctors, scientists who led Pfizer vaccine trials in CT hold roundtable with Sen. Blumenthal

Coronavirus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Pfizer announced Friday it is asking the FDA to authorize emergency use of its new COVID-19 vaccine. The request comes days after the company reported it has a two dose shot that is 95 percent effective during clinical trials.

Some of those trials were conducted right here in Connecticut by the Yale School of Medicine. Friday doctors and scientists who led that trial held a roundtable with Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Related: Pfizer seeking emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in US

“We expect it to go forward literally within days, because the FDA could approve it by Thanksgiving or shortly afterward,” said Blumenthal.

The vaccine could bring limited first shots as early as next month, thanks in part to communities of color right here in Connecticut. The Yale Center for Clinical Investigation designed and implemented the vaccine trials among 250 people in our state.

“It is unacceptable and unconscionable that communities of color have suffered at two and a half times the rates of death,” said Blumenthal.

To recruit volunteers, researchers served as cultural ambassadors to reach communities historically scarred by scientific exploitation. Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu led the trials. He says diversity among the volunteers was key.

“95% accuracy held out across different age demographics, older individuals and also according to race and ethnicity,” said Dr. Ogbuagu.

“We are at an apocalyptic moment in the spread of this disease right now,” said Blumenthal. “The strong glimmer of hope is this vaccine.”

Doctors caution the vaccine is not 100 % effective, though it’s close. It’s two doses, and takes nearly a month to take full effect, and Blumenthal says funding remains an issue. Federal money is needed to refrigerate and store the doses, and to mobilize mass vaccinations, he said.

“The challenge will be to make sure this vaccine goes from the clinical trials to doctors offices and other points of availability as quickly and effectively as possible,” said Blumenthal.

Blumenthal predicts widespread availability by the middle of next year.

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