The Future of the COVID Vaccine

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — With news of a potential treatment moving into Phase 3, hopes for a Coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year are high. Doctors and residents alike are hopeful this new development will help curb the spread; but how soon will this vaccine hit the market?

There are currently at least 4 vaccines in development, but 1 that shows the most promise. Moderna has moved its testing to Phase 3, which will hopefully reveal if the vaccine works. But even with a seal of approval, it could be months before we see the vaccine here on the Western Slope.

The most promising version of a potential new COVID vaccine has now moved to Phase 3 – igniting hope for a “stop to the spread” as human trials begin. “It is primarily geared to determine if the vaccine actually works,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the National Institute of Health on the new phase. “Half of [participants] get the vaccine, and half of them get the placebo, and then you wait and see what happens with infections in the community.”

COVID vaccines have been in development practically since the virus began, with at least four different companies rushing to create an effective version. According to medical experts, a typical vaccine can take a few years to develop – but with the American death toll at now more than 155,000, the heat is on to find something that works.

“The federal government has created what they call ‘Operation Warp Speed’,” Jennifer Davis with SCL Health said. “Their goal as stated on the HHS website is to bring 300 million doses of vaccine to the U.S. market by the end of the year.” Many are concerned this fast-tracking could lead to a less effective vaccine. But experts say, it doesn’t work that way. “Fast-tracking it doesn’t really change the parameters of measuring whether it works or not,” Dr. Thomas Tobin with Community Hospital explained.

But even if a vaccine is ready by the end of 2020, you probably won’t see it at the pharmacy right away. “The government will step in and help to allocate these products to the areas of most need,” Davis said. Those areas include high-risk populations, healthcare workers, and hot spot areas. The rest of the population is looking at a release date of “within the calendar year 2021.”

Regardless of when vaccines hit the market, doctors are confident that this could be the vital next step in having life go back to normal. “If we go back enough years before we had the vaccine for Influenza, a lot of people got really sick and a lot of people died from Influenza,” Dr. Tobin said. “The numbers are obviously drastically reduced with a vaccine.” And in the meantime, you can still do your part to stop the spread, including handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask.

Dr. Tobin also wants to make clear there is no way you can get COVID from the vaccine. Any part of the virus included is either dead or destroyed, so it only creates antibodies. KREX 5, Fox 4 will continue to follow vaccine development, and keep you updated on any additional changes.

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