The pharmaceutical company Pfizer recently announced that its vaccine has shown to be about 90% effective in early drug trials. This news comes as a beacon of hope, as cases in the United States, have spiked recently and are expected to further increase with the oncoming holiday season. Of course, nothing has been set in stone, but Pfizer’s timeline shows that it could have enough of the vaccine produced for 20 million people by January. A vaccine being developed by another pharmaceutical company, Moderna, has also proven to be 95% effective as of November 16. Here are some answers to common questions you may have about the vaccine.
How does the vaccine work?
According to the New York Times, the vaccine contains mRNA, which is a type of genetic material. The mRNA is encapsulated in tiny particles that transport it to our cells. Then, it stimulates the human immune system to create antibodies that can fight the coronavirus.
Will it be able to protect those most at risk?
So far, Pfizer has not disclosed whether or not what percentage of its trial volunteers are in groups that put them at high risk for COVID-19. Such groups include those over 65 and those with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity. However, both the CDC and the National Academy of Medicine are pushing to have the elderly be among the first to be vaccinated.
How is it going to be distributed?
In order for the Pfizer vaccine to be effective, it must be stored on dry ice at about 100 degrees below Fahrenheit. This is different from other COVID vaccines so far because mRNA can quickly self-destruct at higher temperatures. Pfizer is currently training public health workers on how to properly handle the vaccine so it can be distributed effectively.
This scientific breakthrough has given thousands of people hope. We are all hoping that the development of a vaccine means an end to the pandemic and a transition back to normal. However, the creation of a vaccine does not mean that mask mandates and social distancing guidelines can be broken. Please continue to wear your mask, social distance, and trust in science.
Junior Olivia Post is a co-editor for the 2020-2021 Colonel. She is a member of the music program and the track team. In her free time, Olivia can be found reading or obsessively aligning photos on yearbook spreads.
Links to Sources:
“Five Questions to Ask About Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine”
“Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective”
“A Vaccine Breakthrough”