Very good (and some bad) news on the COVID-19 vaccine front

Pfizer says its vaccine seems to be 90% effective so far in Phase 3 trials (larger pool of people; my antibody study is also in Phase 3). And the fact that Pfizer’s vaccine is targeting the spike protein on the virus is good news for other vaccines under development that also target the spike protein, such as Moderna. Every project under Operation Warp Speed (Pfizer isn’t in Warp Speed) also targets the spike protein. And 90% effectiveness might get people to take the vaccine who are currently reluctant because they’re not sure it will work.

All of that is excellent news, very encouraging.

But… they’ll only have 100 million doses by March, and the vaccine requires two shots. So 100 million doses can only cover 50 million people, or about 15% of the US population. Not enough to create herd immunity, and that’s still four months away.

And Pfizer’s vaccine has to be shipped and stored in ultra-cold conditions (-70 C), which will limit where it can be stored and used. The Moderna vaccine still requires cold storage, but only -20 C, which is slightly below 0 F, and both Pfizer and Moderna are working on improving that situation.

Anyway, the light at the end of the tunnel got a little brighter today.


And for once that light doesn’t appear to be an oncoming train!

It’s mostly good news. If we can begin an effective vaccine as early as March, perhaps we can have one available to most people by July. Maybe we can be back to normal or near-normal by next fall.

And, from what I have heard, the first to get the vaccines will be the front line workers and the elderly or others at high risk. Is that what you’ve heard Swine?

1 Like

Jeff–for those of us who have no idea how common it might be for local communities to have ready access to “ultra-cold conditions”, will large portions of the population have to travel to obtain the vaccine. For instance, would we in Tuscaloosa have to make appointments in Birmingham to get treated, or would a regional medical center (like DCH in Tuscaloosa) have such cold storage?

Every Gov was to report back to the HHS in October what their plans were for distribution and storage on vaccines. You probably can ask your Gov, or Dept of Health those questions.

Pfizer and Moderna are both working very hard on stabilizing their vaccines, need something like 2 degrees Celsius for storage. I suspect they’ll get there.

armed forces have all the needed transport and storage logistics, so do we at Vandy since we are a Moderna trial center. Liquid nitrogen is approximately -200 C so that would have been easy but that is too cold. mRNA seems to be the pathway to success and lots of companies will bring an mRNA product to market, right now it is 2x inoculation and which populaton of the community responds best is still being determined. Warp speed participants should be fired up and focused and full of hope for achieving herd immunity. I am watching a single dad deteriorate every day to the point of soon his only hope will be double lung transplant, this last surge is parabolic and hitting harder than the spring. Glad for the Pfizer details, but Moderna is also close to putting out news for their trials and I hope it is same or similar.

1 Like

One thing I’m curious about, and am pretty ignorant about, will be the precaution levels for those who have been immunized. I would guess lots of hand washing and sanitizing would certainly still need to be done, but do you need to keep wearing a mask if you can’t transmit through breath/bodily fluids? Do you still need to socially distance when you’ve been vaccinated?

Another item: will you get a card or other paper/electronic document that says you have been immunized? If so, can a business make you show proof of vaccination to enter its building? If a business limits customers to those who have proof of vaccination can it go to full capacity?

I don’t know, but I’d think it’d be a good idea to wear masks & wash hands for at least a little while after immunization. Maybe by next fall the cases will drop to a level that we can go back to normal life.

It’s suspected it will take awhile for enough immunity to build up, possibly 2 months. I’m about to hit 2 months after my second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

I don’t know the answer to that, Fred. To my knowledge, which is far from complete, the only way to maintain -70 C would be liquid nitrogen or something similar. Would DCH have that capability? I would hope so but I just dunno.

Do you still need to socially distance when you’ve been vaccinated?

I would say yes. Even at 90% effectiveness, there’s still a 10% chance you’re not immune. And you never know who you’re gonna encounter that isn’t immunized and is an asymptomatic carrier.

Was it Pfizer or Moderna who said they would consider “licensing” other pharmaceutical firms to both manufacture and ship their vaccine? That could really speed up the vaccines for all Americans who are willing to get the vaccine.

Not sure who said that, but I do remember reading it. Pfizer has been making theirs in Belgium for months, they didn’t take any OWS money, but did pre-sell 100M doses for $1.5B to the US govt.

That’s what I’m hearing as well. And of course my antibody trial focuses on both – the elderly in nursing homes and those who care for them.

No doubt those should be the first to receive one, the death rate with the elderly clearly shows that, and the everyday exposure to the healthcare workers makes that a necessity.

Or an Alabama Linebacker…which are about the same things…


1 Like

Maintaining the temperature should not be a problem. Heck, we do that every day in our little lab. Any decent chem lab and most biological have that ability.

1 Like

Have to maintain temp with mass quantities of vaccine. You’d be surprised how many that will be.

I know there’s still a lot of unknown but when the vaccine rolls out and we’ve gotten our second dose, how long will it be until we need another dose? We get our regular flu shot every Fall. Will it be the same for the Covid flu shot? Maybe they can combine the regular flu shot with the Covid flu shot and we get one shot each Fall. I know there’s no definitive answers yet; just thinking about the future.