OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has announced that the COVID vaccine it has been developing has a 90% effective rate. Now, they have to see how long that effectiveness will last.
"There are several things we don’t know, how long that will last. Various other vaccines you have to have a booster every so long before your immunity starts to ween. And it’s way too early to know anything about that," Dr. David Quimby, infectious diseases physician at CHI Health said.
While the announcement from Pfizer is good news, there are still a number of steps that must be completed before the vaccine is readily available to the public. Pfizer must now submit an application to the FDA for an emergency use authorization. The company says it will continue with safety analysis for a few more weeks until they submit their application.
"I think that we all, certainly the pandemic and the need for a vaccine imparts emergency but we also hope that the FDA cuts corners and ignores their responsibility to review in detail the efficacy data and the safety data of vaccines and drugs that are being put before them to combat the pandemic," Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease physician at UNMC said.
Pfizer says they have 50 million doses available. The vaccine is administered in two doses, so 25 million people globally will be able to get vaccinated by the end of 2020 if it's approved, the company said.
Health experts say doctors and front line workers will be most likely to receive the vaccine first, followed by the most vulnerable population.
"We also need to look at what the data tells us where the vaccine is more likely to have the best efficacy at controlling community transmission because that’s ultimately the goal. We certainly want to help individuals on an individual basis but this is also a public health tool where using vaccine intelligently in the community can reduce spread as much as possible and protect everyone," Lawler said.
Lawler said the spring of next year is likely when the vaccine will be more readily available for the public. Until then, he says we must stay vigilant in staying safe and following safety precautions. If we don't, the vaccine won't be very much help.
"I think spring and the middle of 2021 is when things will really start to shift and we’ll start to be able to vaccinate a large proportion of the American people but we have to get there first and we have to get there with an intact health care system and I hope we get there with the minimum amount of severe disease and death among Nebraskans as we can," Lawler said.