COVID-19 vaccine coming soon


Murphy Eggers, Contributor

Throughout 2020 the world has suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic.  For nearly a year, knowledge of COVID-19 has continued to develop greatly, which has informed regulations, successful or not, to slow the spread of COVID-19.  One of the main goals throughout this pandemic has been to create an effective vaccine.

In the first two weeks of November, two firms announced that their vaccines were at least 90% successful in clinical trials.  Pfizer was the first to report their clinical trial results to the public on November 9, with biotechnology firm, Moderna, announcing their vaccine nearly a week later.

What does a 90% effectiveness look like for a vaccine?  In the clinical trials performed by Pfizer and Moderna, their vaccines prevented symptoms of COVID-19 in 90% of their volunteers.  In addition, a portion of the volunteers was given a placebo, yet the vaccine which was given to the other portion of volunteers still proved to be 90% effective in preventing symptoms.  Pfizer has reported up to a 95% effectiveness in their most recent clinical trials.  With the clinical trials showing a 90-95% efficacy rate, the vaccine is very promising to be effective in the real world.  It is likely a vaccine with much lower effectiveness would be still be approved because others, like the flu vaccine, can be as low as 40% effective.  

As well as the effectiveness of the vaccine, it is also safe to take.  There has been some unease with the safety of a potential vaccine because of the pace pharmaceutical companies were trying to produce one.  Pfizer has no worries about the safety of its product and is confident that their vaccine will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA).

Although they were only recently announced, vaccines could be distributed as soon as mid to late December.  Both Pfizer and Moderna need to apply for federal regulatory approval before any doses are distributed.  Pfizer claims FDA approval of their vaccine is in the works, meaning people could see the vaccine sooner than expected.  When the FDA approves either or both vaccines, it is likely that early doses will be distributed to people at high risk of contracting or dying from COVID-19.  Then, once all high-risk and essential workers are vaccinated, the vaccine will be available to the broader population. 

It is estimated that Moderna and Pfizer could create an estimated 40 million doses as soon as the end of the year.  The vaccination requires two doses per person, so the 40 million doses will be enough for 20 million people. Unfortunately, only a small portion of the first batch of vaccines will be distributed to the United States.  The distribution of the vaccine will not be distributed to the general population until next year.  According to the New York Times, the federal government paid Pfizer $1.95 billion to make 100 million doses free for Americans.

While some may see this as an immediate cure to the whole pandemic, there are some challenges still being faced with the newly developed vaccine. It was first reported that the vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees celsius, but Pfizer revealed that the vaccine could be stored in a standard freezer for up to a month.  This information will make the shipment of vaccines much less complicated.

With everyone in the country wanting to move forward with their pre-pandemic lives, this vaccine is great news.  The path towards normal life will continue in the coming days thanks to pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer.