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Infectious disease specialists weigh in on Pfizer's early data of COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Production
Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 10, 2020

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Health experts in west Michigan are preparing for the day a COVID-19 vaccine will finally become available.

They're hopeful after news on Monday that early analysis showed Pfizer's vaccine could be over 90% effective.

While no actual information has come out for health experts to look at, one infectious disease specialist said the news is very promising but a lot about it is still unknown.

"It sounds good, and we all want to believe it means that the vaccine will prevent 90% of disease in people," said WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine's Chief of Infectious Disease Dr. Tom Flynn.

It's still a lot of unknowns after Pfizer's announcement on Monday which said the trial for the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be 90% effective.

Dr. Flynn said it's good news, but they just don't know how good at this point.

"We don’t know how long it lasts. Is it only good for three months? Is it good for six months? Is it good for two years? We don’t know if it’s effective in groups that have the highest rate of problems," said Dr. Flynn.

Dr. Andrew Jameson, an infectious disease specialist with Mercy Health said if the efficacy rate is true, it's better than what they expected from a vaccine. He said it will hopefully help with severity of symptoms, as well.

"Does it also make the infection less severe? Even if it's not perfectly effective. Like we've seen that with a flu vaccine for years, that even if you get the flu and you're vaccinated, your chance of hospitalization and death is down, even if you get infected," said Mercy Health Infectious Disease Specialist and Internal Medicine Dr. Andrew Jameson.

As the vaccine is headed into final analysis and still has to be approved by the FDA, doctors and health departments are already looking at who will get it when it comes out.

"If it’s a safe vaccine, I think it would be very sensible for most of us to get it," said Dr. Flynn.

"While we're waiting for all those logistics to be rolled out, it's, it's worrisome, and so we need the community to kind of look out at the horizon say that the sunset or the sunrise is coming, eventually. We just need to kind of buckle down together for a little bit longer," said Dr. Jameson.

Health experts said while nothing has been confirmed they said they're looking at December or January as the earliest for when the vaccine will be available. They said they believe it will be offered to the highest risk groups first.

In fact, Governor Whitmer announced on Tuesday that her administration is working on a rollout plan making sure the most vulnerable and at-risk populations take priority.