Pfizer’s vaccine: Could it end the pandemic?

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Zach Epp and Michael Fisher

On November 9th, Pfizer revealed that their vaccine for COVID-19 could be 90% effective. The new coronavirus has killed 1.5 million people worldwide and companies like Pfizer have been racing to end the pandemic with a safe and effective vaccine. Many top scientists are blown away by the 90% effectiveness and shipments of the vaccine could reach New Jersey by January 2021.

“90% effectiveness is very impressive,” agreed Edison Intermediate nurse Patricia Kelly. For reference, the flu vaccine is only 67% effective. “I always have to wonder why there is a 10% gap,” Mrs. Kelly continued, “but for some people, the vaccine just does not stick.”

Like most Covid vaccines in testing, Pfizer’s vaccine targets the spike protein that the virus uses to infect cells. While many vaccines contain a small dosage of the virus to build up the person’s immune system, this vaccine does not contain the virus and requires two doses.

“After the first dose, the vaccine will give the patient minor cold symptoms: a cough, a runny nose, etc.” Mrs. Kelly explained, “so a lot of people might not come back for their second dose. However, your immune system needs time to build up a defense, and the vaccine will not be effective if the patient does not receive the second dose.”

Because Pfizer revealed this data unusually early in testing, a vaccine probably will not reach the U.S. by the end of 2020. Mrs. Kelly agrees, believing that the vaccine will not reach the general public for four-six months.

“The vaccine will reach people who need it most first,” Mrs. Kelly said. “Healthcare workers, including janitors, cooks, and secretaries, will have access to the vaccine before we do as they are in the closest contact with the disease.”

However, Mrs. Kelly warns that things might not go back to normal so soon. “With a disease like this, cases go up, they say up for a while, and they come back down,” she explained. “In New Jersey, we are still going up.”

Pfizer’s vaccine is not flawless, and it may be a little while before everything can return to normal, but the vaccine could be the key to ending the COVID pandemic.