The federal government is telling states to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine to be ready to distribute by November 1, a tight deadline that has raised concerns among health experts.
Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a Critical Care Cardiologist and Co-Director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at Columbia, told NY1’s Roma Torre that we are still several months away from a vaccine being available.
Haythe said companies just began enrolling volunteers in phase 3 trials in July and August. She added that this third and final phase usually includes 30,000 or more people, and requires a second dose after one month. After that, more time is needed to see how many participants contract the coronavirus.
The trial also studies whether the vaccine has any impact on the virus’ severity. “It’s not just that you get infected, it’s that you don’t get sick,” Haythe said.
While there is high demand for a vaccine, the cardiologist says people will need to be patient.
“We don’t know what the long term repercussions of this is. So while we’re balancing wanting to vaccinate people and go back to life as usual, realistically it’s going to take many months of this. I’m surprised to hear of an October to November release, frankly,” she said.
Haythe said the choice to get a vaccine will be a personal decision, and that it will be “nerve wracking” if all the data isn’t available.
There are two main concerns about a vaccine – that it could cause harmful side effects or that it could be ineffective in protecting people against the virus, which Haythe said could provide people with a false sense of security.
It’s important to let science take its course, Haythe said, “and not rush into things out of panic and fear or politics.”
In the meantime, she advised to keep social distancing, and to get a flu shot.