By DESTINY RAMOS, NOAH AMARO and AZRIEL OLMEDO
In what’s now approaching a year-long quarantine, the news of distributions of vaccines to prevent the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is becoming a reality. In the United States, some of the larger companies being funded by the government to aid the distributions of vaccines include Moderna and the partnering of Pfizer and BioNTech, two central pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Stat News, an American health-directed news website, reported that the large biotechnology company Moderna has undergone a “30,000-volunteer study” person trial in the short period that the pandemic has given them. According to Science Magazine, a total of “11 people developed COVID-19 symptoms” during the trial, but it is crucial to note these were mild cases of the virus. To ensure trust in their results, it was revealed that a total of “7,000 participants were over age of 65” and 5,000 of those same participants had diseases putting them at “a higher risk severe COVID-19,” Science Magazine continued. However, no cases of severe symptoms were detected in any participant.
The vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is not far off from the conclusions of their trial. It “enrolled 43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds, and no serious safety concerns have been observed,” according to a progress report by Pfizer.
Moderna has received one billion dollars in funds from the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed, a response initiated by the government “to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available in January 2021,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pfizer does not fall behind with their fundings of a shared contract of roughly two billion, with BioNtech in return for 100 million doses by December.
According to Stat News, Moderna’s tests have revealed a “94% efficacy in the main analysis” for its vaccine, and will submit its results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Jezer Cabrera, senior at Citrus Valley High school, acknowledges the possibility of others doubting the efficacy of the vaccine, “I bet there’s going to be those people that are like, “don’t get the vaccine, they’re gonna plant chips in you” or the “it’s gonna give you the virus directly” kind of people. But if it’s 94% efficacy I’d say it’s good progress towards getting out of this pandemic.”
Another student from CVHS, who remains to be left unnamed, shares their uncertainties about the vaccine, “I wonder if there will be any side effects, since the vaccine is in high demand we need to be careful about that stuff.”
A nurse gives a Moscow man the Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine. Sputnik V, a vaccine produced in Russia, is now the first registered vaccine against COVID-19 (Photo credit: Science Magazine).
In a rush to get approvals to finally distribute these vaccines, Pfizer has come forward and filed an Emergency Use Authorization request for their vaccine to the FDA, which would effectively increase the speed of distribution to the public. This is after they trust in the effectiveness of their researched and tested vaccine.
And so, as early as the 17th of December, the FDA will hold a meeting with their vaccine advisory committee to discuss the matter and approval of their EUA request. After a positive conclusion, the FDA could issue the EUA in 24 to 72 hours. It is also important to note that their distribution of 50 million doses will not only be given to the U.S. but also split among other countries that have also contributed to the company’s research and development. In Moderna’s applications of the vaccine, they hope to provide the U.S. with 20 million doses before the year ends.
Throughout all this positive movement to combat the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave his thoughts and conclusions that realistically, after the vaccination of those who are high-priority, Americans who choose to be vaccinated may do so in the spring of 2021. “By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population,” Fauci said in a live discussion on Bloomberg Quicktake with Mark Zuckerberg.
Martin Stalhut, a senior at CVHS, says, “I’m glad a vaccine is coming. I’m fortunate that my family hasn’t been exposed to the [virus]. I hope others will also get through this virus.”
The delay is in the production of the hundreds of millions of doses and then in the waiting period to be distributed. The worries of the remainder of the public who may choose to not vaccinate is another huge concern that science cannot combat, but this is ultimately excellent news to what may finally be the end of quarantine and the pandemic the world was so blindly struck by.