Top Richmond doc on COVID-19 vaccine: 'It’s great news'

Posted at 4:41 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 18:28:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots maybe 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. Monday's announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent.

"It’s great news," Richmond/Henrico Health Department Director Dr. Danny Avula said in reaction to the announcement. "An efficacy of 90-percent puts it more on par with things like measles [as opposed to flu]."

The trial included nearly 44-thousand volunteers. Some of those volunteers got a placebo, while others got the vaccine.

This early study was conducted after 94 participants contracted the disease.

"The other good news about what’s happening with the Pfizer trial is that they’ve not had any serious side effects," Avula said.

He said if the effectiveness remained that high, it would help with developing herd immunity.

"We still want to vaccinate large numbers of people but it does mean that we don’t have to vaccinate quite as many as we would if the vaccine efficacy was only fifty or sixty percent," he said.

He cautioned the rate could change and said there are still plenty of unanswered questions like how long would it last and is it safe across all demographics?

Another challenge, Avula mentioned, was that this vaccine had to be stored in temperatures beyond the capacity of normal freezers.

"We are in the process of purchasing ultra-cold freezers and preparing for receiving that vaccine towards the end of this year," he said.

Pfizer said it planned to apply for emergency-use authorization with the FDA near the end of November and have 50-million doses ready worldwide by the end of 2020.