Nearly eight months after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, Americans are finally starting to get answers about the candidate vaccines that could potentially slow the coronavirus pandemic. With up to 95% of efficacy according to The New York Times, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna have released promising results from their Phase 3 trials.
These trials performed by Pfizer and Moderna consisted of more than 43,000 volunteers divided in two groups. One group would receive the tentative vaccine and the other group a placebo to test out the efficacy of the vaccine against those who are not. The most common, significant side effect seen in the trials was fatigue, at a frequency of 3.8% after a second dose of the vaccine according to NPR.
Alumni Tyler Bailey a pre-med student who graduated in 2015 from Cal Poly currently works as a medical assistant in Huntington Beach Hospital, discussed the importance of the vaccine reaching those who are exposed daily to the virus and put their families and loved ones at risk.
“Although helping people is my passion, I feel so vulnerable to the virus now more than ever,” said Bailey, “This vaccine is promising and will bring a lot of hope to those like me working in the medical field who are exposed every day and give our immune system a boost.”
The vaccine has caught the attention of Professor Emeritus, Jill Adler-Moore, an expert in the field of vaccine development, who has developed a medication called AmBisome, a drug used to treat a variety of serious fungal infections, said that calculated distribution is essential to slowing the spread.
“It’s very exciting to see these vaccines in their final stages,” said Dr. Moore. “It’s going to take a while to distribute it and we are going to have to decide who will be getting it first.”
Distribution will occur in stages, added Moore, by distributing it to first responders and health care providers first as they are exposed to the virus regularly. Elders and people who are immuno-compromised will follow before the rest of the population receives it.
Safety data has yet to be presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who will hold an advisory board meeting once published journals are released. Experts in the area will be gathered where they will review expedited journals on the produced vaccine by these two companies and make their decision if the vaccine is safe to approve and start distributing.
Moderna’s vaccine can be refrigerated up to a month after it’s production, making it easier to distribute and store. Pfizer vaccine on the other hand has to be kept at a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius after it’s production. Certain freezers used to keep these vaccines at the right temperature are commonly used in the field.
A problem may arise with the large quantities of vaccines that are being produced and the shortage in available freezers across certain areas of the country. Underdeveloped countries who lack these freezers will also be demanding help from those who can export these in a timely manner prior to the release of these vaccines to the public.
With students in the pre-medical field being stripped away from their hands-on experience, their hope lies on this vaccine returning them to the labs and classrooms as soon as possible.
“With the medical field being a field that requires a lot of exposure to medicine, it is hard to get that full exposure by sitting behind a computer and watching video lectures,” said Abraham Eissa, a third-year nutrition student. ” I hope that this vaccine can not only accomplish the world returning to normal but also a first step for future development of vaccines for COVID-19.”
With the vaccine still months away from release and barring approval from the Federal Drug and Administration in the works, it is advised to maintain to the already established guidelines until the vaccine’s release as it is crucial to slowing down the virus and keeping the public safe.
(Feature image courtesy of Obi Onyeador)
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