Two COVID-19 vaccines are poised to be authorized for emergency use—just about one year after the virus was identified, an unprecedented accomplishment. But will they be safe? Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), answered this question and more on today’s episode of the I AM BIO Podcast.
“It’s really important that the public understands that safety corners haven’t been cut,” said Dr. Messonnier. “What’s different is doing everything to get rid of any obstacles that would cause wastage of time.”
What we know: The vaccines are about 95% effective—but only after the second dose. “The bottom line is if it’s a two-dose vaccine, you need to get the second dose,” she said.
What we don’t know: Whether or not they are “infection blocking,” meaning they protect against future infection, or “disease blocking,” meaning they protect an individual from getting sick but don’t necessarily prevent the spread.
But this is not unusual at the time of authorization, she continued. “We need to continue rigorous studies of these vaccines to answer all of these questions and understand how the vaccines perform outside clinical trials,” and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will continue to review and amend their recommendations.
Who will get the vaccine first? ACIP voted last week to prioritize health care workers and nursing home residents for the initial doses. The general public should be able to get the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021.
The bottom line: “This is a historic undertaking and a shining moment for the biomedical ecosystem and for the partnerships that existed before this effort and that really have supported these efforts,” said Dr. Messonnier.
Listen to the whole thing to learn more about vaccine development and allocation, including when the vaccine will be available for children (and how we can protect them in the meantime) and what the CDC’s doing to engage with communities of color and build trust in the vaccines.
Get the episode at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast fix, including Apple, Google, or Spotify.
Want more vaccine facts? Visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.org.
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