Early returns on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness get mixed reaction
HALIFAX -- Two vaccines that people have been talking about in the last seven days are astonishingly effective in early trials, but whether either of them -- or another one -- become broadly available in in our region is kind of a waiting game at the moment.
Retirees Effie and David Smith of Upper Burlington, N.S., are two people who aren't exactly chomping at the bit to get their hands on newly announced COVID vaccines.
"I wouldn't run out and get it," said Effie. "I get my flu shots every year -- we both do -- but I wouldn't run out right quick."
Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge says his company's vaccine, mra 1273, is able to prevent COVID-19 disease almost 95 percent of the time.
That's slightly better than Pfizer's vaccine, touted as 90 per cent effective.
Both U.S. companies are among those that have signed agreements with Canada, and have asked Health Canada to review their products.
Local health officials say all of this is encouraging.
"Given the number of companies that have them in the pipe and are undergoing testing, I expect that we will see a vaccine within the next year for sure," said Dr. Todd Hatchette, Nova Scotia Health's microbiology chief.
But who gets it first will likely be carefully prioritized.
A former director of clinical research at a local drug company agrees, saying patience will be required before we see a broad rollout.
"Obviously, first line people would be our most immuno-compromised, which would be the elderly, and if we can protect them with a vaccine, then our healthcare workers," said Rita Nigam. "Then, I think we can avoid lockdowns."
There is no clear consensus on the streets of downtown Halifax, but, for the moment, it's one bit of business that's not on Effie Smith's agenda.
"I think I'll wait a while on that. See how it goes," she said.
Just last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he hoped a vaccine would roll out early next year, but warned a shot won't provide an immediate solution to the second wave we're seeing in many parts of the country, so it's a good idea to keep-up our distancing, hand-washing, and of course masks.