HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Reactions are pouring in after Pfizer announced early Monday that testing of its COVID-19 vaccine shows it may be 90% effective in preventing the virus. But when will it be ready, and who will get it first?
The head of Pfizer joined Governor Ned Lamont during a news conference to talk about how well the vaccine is working in test trials and how quickly it can get out to the public.
“Normally we don’t spend $1 billion to manufacture a product that may not work,” Pfizer’s Senior Vice President of Global Drug Safety Research and Development and Director of the company’s Groton labs site, John Burkhardt said. “You wait to see if it works and if it’s safe and then you do the manufacturing, so we did that at risk.”
While FDA approval of the vaccine is still months away at the earliest, drug manufacturers have a few problems to solve first.
A big one: The vaccine must be kept below freezing to stay viable.
“We are working very hard on that,” Burkhardt said. “We have an experienced fleet of talented people at Pfizer who are solely working on this; it’s an army of people.”
According to ABC News,
“We are partnering with hospitals, and healthcare systems and local health departments to find out who has capacity for things like storage which takes special instrumentation,” CEO Trinity Health of New England Dr. Reginald Eadie said.
And what are we doing to get ready for distribution?
Trinity Health said it is working with hospitals and health care centers to work out how to properly allocate the vaccine to residents.
So if approved, Pfizer said the first 50 million doses will go to front line workers. But does that mean medical workers, grocery workers or bus drivers?
Pfizer said 50 million doses sound like a lot, but really it’s only 25 million doses because you need two shots to become immune to the virus.
“With the two-part dose you have to monitor that for 3.5 million people times two; that would be seven million vaccinations,” Lamont explained.
So if approved, would you take the vaccine?
“The early data is encouraging, so I would take it,” one shopper at Trader Joe’s in Hartford told News 8.
“I would wait till it comes out,” another said. “I would wait till a couple of people get it first and I would see what happens, and then I would consider taking it. “
“The new incoming administration, if they have faith in it I think I would take it,” another man said.
“I don’t know if you can trust it, I would wait,” said another shopper.
Burkhardt reported in a news conference Monday when it comes to vaccine safety, “With this particular vaccine, no corners were cut. We followed this tried-and-true methodology that we have followed in the past.”
But officials are saying it could be six months to a year or beyond before it’s ready for the general public, especially if they’re rolling this thing out worldwide.