CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A possible breakthrough in the testing of a vaccine for COVID-19 has a Charleston physician confident a vaccine for the virus will become available next year.
Clinical trials done by drug maker Pfizer suggest a 90 percent effectiveness in preventing the virus from affecting people who haven’t had it yet.
“Excited, excited. It’s early, but this is great news,” Roper St. Francis Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bob Oliverio said Monday. “Did not expect to see these kinds of numbers coming out of initial trials.”
Oliverio said the 90-percent effectiveness rate of the vaccine is much higher than he expected.
“Ninety-percent is fantastic," he said. “If you think about the way that vaccines work, you know you can see anywhere between 50 and 85 percent. Eight-five percent is a really, really good vaccine, and that means you get the shot and you develop an immunity to whatever you’re getting a shot for.”
Unlike the flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine will require patients to get two shots, with the second one coming 21 days after the first.
“You get this series of two shots, and in about three or four weeks you have a 90-percent chance of being immune to the virus which is something that we have not seen before in the realm of vaccines,” Oliverio said.
We asked some people in Charleston if they’re confident a vaccine is coming soon.
“I’d say probably by the beginning of the year, by the time we swear in a new president,” Gary Stennett said.
“I think we will. But I’m not going to take it soon. I’ll wait a little while,” Rita Simmons said.
So who will get the vaccine first?
Oliverio believes it will be those with the highest risk of getting the virus and the health care workers who are on the front lines.
He said if the FDA approves Pfizer’s vaccine, the first doses could be given during the first four months of next year.