How Soon Can You Get The COVID Vaccine?

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Two coronavirus vaccine candidates have shown very promising results are expected to roll out across the United States soon, but when is it coming to the Bay Area? 

The strong success rates seen in Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccine candidates have raised the anticipation that Americans may go back to their everyday lives. However, people living in the Bay Area may have to wait until the summer of 2021 before the local and state government can obtain and distribute millions of vaccines to the general public, the San Franciso Chronicle reported.  

On Monday, biotech company Moderna Inc. announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing an infection. Their announcement was based on the first analysis of clinical data from the final phase of their trials. 

Moderna’s vaccine was made using a new technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. The vaccine technology contains synthetic genetic material that prompts the human body to produce specific proteins. The “spike” protein then helps the human immune system to make antibodies to fight the novel coronavirus. 

The vaccines’ efficacy surpassed infectious disease experts’ estimations who said any candidate might be around 50% to 70% effective. At its current effectiveness rate, the COVID-19 vaccine is significantly more effective than flu vaccines, which has 10% to 80% effectiveness. 

“To have two Mondays in a row waking up to this wonderful news that both work really well, at 90% and 95% effectiveness in these interim results of these two trials, is thrilling,” UCSF infectious disease physician Dr. Monica Gandhi said. 

Additionally, Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine would not have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, which means it would be more accessible than Pfizer’s candidate that needs to be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius. 

Data from Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial has yet to be peer-reviewed. The company is also waiting for an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

While experts say at least one vaccine could be granted an emergency use approval by the end of the year, there will be a very limited number of doses at first. These doses will likely go to high priority groups, such as health care workers and emergency responders. Vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until 2021. 

Thousands of Americans may be able to avail of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. According to Reuters, the biopharmaceutical company will launch a pilot delivery program across four U.S. states to address potential distribution challenges. 

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine must be shipped under ultra-cold requirements. Each vial should be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius (or minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature is significantly below the usual standards for vaccines, which are typically stored between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

“We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other U.S. states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective COVID-19 vaccine programs,” Pfizer said in a statement released Monday. 

The company will roll out its pilot program in New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas. The states were chosen due to the population’s diversity, size, immunization infrastructure, and the need to reach residents living in urban and rural settings. 

The pilot program does not mean the four states will receive vaccine doses earlier than other states. 

Pfizer expects to have collected enough safety data on the vaccine from the large scale Phase 3 trials before November ends. They will proceed to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA after accumulating the necessary data.

The United States has now logged more than 11.2 million coronavirus cases and over 247,220 deaths since the pandemic began in March, Johns Hopkins University reported. 

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.