UAB Doctor: Word of potential Pfizer vaccine is good news

COVID-19 vaccine progress

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hopeful news Monday about a possible vaccine for the coronavirus. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals announced they have a vaccine that appears to be 90% effective against the infectious disease. This is based on early and incomplete tests.

UAB is working on its own vaccine trials at this time. Still, one UAB doctor said the latest news is encouraging and offers hope for the everyone in the world.

“This is extremely good news. I think the world is happy about this news,” said Dr. Paul Goepfert.

Dr. Goepfert, a Professor of Medicine at UAB and with the Alabama Vaccine Clinic, said he hasn’t seen all the data and more tests will be needed.

“You want to show the vaccine works and is safe and is safe in as many populations as possible. The vaccine is not going to work unless you give it to people to be vaccinated,” Goepfert said.

A diverse group of test subjects did take part in the research to build that trust. Dr. Goepfert said it’s essential to gain the trust of the public so they will be willing to take the vaccine.

He said if 60% of the population takes the vaccine, it could lead to herd immunity for the country, but smaller amounts would require a higher vaccination rate.

Dr. Goepfert said other vaccines will be needed because there could be a storage problem with this type of vaccine.

“This has to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius. As you know, most pharmacies don’t have that kind of storage facilities,” Goepfert said.

Pfizer plans to ask for an emergency declaration to produce the vaccine later this month. If approved, it would be rolled out to health care workers and those affected by the disease first.

UAB’s research on a vaccine will take them into next year.

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