LANSING, Mich. — The excitement of two COVID-19 vaccines with more than 90% efficacy is undeniable, but scientists are warning the vaccines are not the silver bullet to ending the pandemic..Dan Grossman delves into questions that still need to be answered as these vaccines are submitted for emergency use authorization.
In one of the more paradoxical developments of COVID-19- the virus’ pervasive nature that has killed, sickened, and saddened so many has also led us to the brink of such promising innovation. “It’s obviously tragic that the cases are occurring that quickly, but it does help a vaccine trial because otherwise you just have to wait that much longer.”
In June the FDA released its vaccine guidelines saying it would consider emergency use authorization for any vaccine testing with at least 50% effectiveness. Moderna and Pfizer both went well above that saying theirs are testing at or near 95%.
“These vaccines- as excited as we are about them are not yet the silver bullet”a lesson in cautious optimism according to the executive director of the international vaccine access center at Johns Hopkins.
William Moss of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University shared “we don’t want to give the public the impression that there’s an emergency use authorization and these vaccines become available in a small amount in December and we can go back to our pre-pandemic behavior. that’s one of the dangers,.”
Erring on the side of caution Moss says many questions still need answering among them how the vaccine works. Dr. Fauci has said the initial vaccines will prevent symptoms in those who become infected, rather than kill the virus itself. That means immunized people might be able spread COVID to others, but how long will immunization last? One year? Three? Will booster doses be needed?
All careful considerations that will only emerge once one is put into play. “Particularly in the coming months, when only a small proportion of the United States will be able to get these vaccines, people will are going to really need to continue wearing masks and physically distancing.”
On the side of optimism, however, what is happening right now could reshape how vaccines are made in the future. Because things have developed so quickly the process of how the drug is made has sped up, same with the vaccine itself.
In traditional vaccines a small dose of the virus is injected into the body so the immune system can create antibodies. In the COVID-19 vaccine, though, both Moderna and Pfizer have used what is called messenger RNA where the virus’ genetic code is injected into the body so it can instruct cells on what antibodies to produce.
Scientists say this way is faster, safer, and can create a stronger immune response “I suspect that if this all goes well and these vaccines are safe and continue to demonstrate 90 to 95% efficacy, we’re going to see other vaccines of a similar type.”a lesson in innovation in the face of an unprecedented challenge.
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