In tonight's 7 UpFront segment, we speak with Dr. Sam Sun, director of the nonprofit InDemic Foundation, about the latest developments in a COVID-19 vaccine.
Sun will discuss what lies ahead for a possible approval and the challenges that will likely follow.
During the first White House coronavirus task force press briefing since summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the "calvary is coming," in reference to a vaccine. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna appear to show over a 90% effectiveness rate.
“The process of the speed did not compromise at all the safety nor did it compromised the scientific integrity,” Fauci said. “It was a reflection of extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months that actually took years before but I really want to settle that concern that people have about that.”
But what difficulties could the American people face in accessing this treatment? Particularly with the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at extremely cold temperatures.
"Both vaccines are based on RNA, and RNA is not that stable," Sun said. "Moderna has reported that their vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, so 2º to 8º C for 30 days and long term at -23º C or freezer temperature so that's very encouraging. And then Pfizer seems confident in their existing distribution channels. So even though they do require -70ºC, they have special temperature controlled containers that should be able to get their vaccine to the participants who need it most."
As far as the roll out of these vaccines, Sun says age, pre-existing conditions and if you work on the front lines, you will be prioritized.
"In general it's thought that health care workers, front line workers and then adults at highest risk of having severe COVID-19... or those over the age of 65 will be prioritized," Sun said.
He added that after those groups are vaccinated, the general public will receive the vaccine, which will likely happen in early 2021, he said.
Right now, data doesn't show whether or not the vaccine will protect against the virus for years to come. That is still being studied. Right now, the vaccine protects at least for a few months, Sun said.