Richmond Health director says we could see COVID vaccine as early as end of December

Depends on phase three of trials; says vaccine would go to most vulnerable and exposed first
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 6:38 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Moderna has announced its vaccine has a near 95 percent effectiveness, which is the second vaccine reported to be more than 90 percent effective in the past week.

Dr. Danny Avula, the Health Director for both Henrico County and the City of Richmond, says we could see a vaccine as early as the end of December, but that depends on phase three of testing trials.

Both Moderna and Pfizer boasted high effectiveness for their COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Danny Avula says the two are the same type of vaccines but have their differences.

“They’re both two-dose series. They have slightly different times between the first and second dose, 21 days [for Moderna] versus 28 days [for Pfizer], but the [Moderna] vaccine seems to be stable at temperatures that most freezers can accommodate, you may remember that the Pfizer vaccine required ultra-cold storage and -94° and it does not I believe their number is -4°,” said Dr. Avula.

Dr. Avula says that would make it easier for those administering the vaccine, but he also says Moderna is not producing as many doses as Pfizer. As for when the vaccine will be available, Dr. Avula says the vaccines need to go through phase three trials, but then after that, the vaccine could be available in Virginia as soon as the end of December.

“That would really be for a couple of high-risk groups the federal government has made it clear that we are going to prioritize: front line healthcare workers and then staff and residents of long-term care facilities, nursing homes and group homes,” said Avula.

Dr. Avula says the next group to get the vaccine would be the elderly not in long-term facilities and those at high risk for COVID complications. He says the majority of the public would not have access to the vaccine until likely the end of next summer.

For reference on the effectiveness, the annual flu vaccine is anywhere from 40 to 60 percent effective.

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