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7 UpFront: A closer look at development, distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 6:35 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 20:00:12-05

(WXYZ) — We're taking a closer look at the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines that are awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration in tonight's 7 UpFront segment.

We're talking with renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Arnold Monto from the University of Michigan School for Public Health.

You can see the full interview in the video player above.

"The FDA in the United States doesn't just accept the data that the company presents," Monto says. "The FDA gets raw data and does their own analysis to make sure what is being claimed is valid. And then on the 10th of December for the Pfizer vaccine and then on the 17th of December for the Moderna vaccine, we're gonna have an advisory meeting in which the FDA will ask us what our opinion is about Emergency Use Authorization."

"You never know what comes out in an analysis," he says. "I suspect, from what we hear with a high level of efficacy that there's not going to be a problem because we had hoped to have at least 50% protection and we've got in excess of 90% protection. That's really good news."

"We were ready to do this because people have been working in labs on related viruses that cause SARS and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, so they were ready," Monto says. "Then one part of the virus seems to be involved with good protection, so they could design the vaccine to specifically provide antibodies to this part of the virus."

"There are side effects. A lot of people have aching in their arm, maybe not feeling well or a day, a day and a half," he says. "These are acceptable side effects, given the level of protection we get."

"I think the preponderance of evidence is that this is a safe, effective vaccine," Monto says. " We never know if there are very rare side effects until the vaccine is given to a larger number of people. But it doesn't look like we're going to have problems with this."