Mayo Clinic Experts Address COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns
ROCHESTER -- As the world works to get the on-going pandemic under control, experts from the Mayo Clinic addressed the media Wednesday afternoon to outline the development, planned distribution, possible side-effects, and hesitancy surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.
This week the United Kingdom began rolling out their first doses and in the United States, the work of two major companies is currently under review by the FDA.
Dr. Melanie Swift is an occupational medicine physician at Mayo. She says the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very similar.
The side-effect profile will be very similar. The effectiveness is almost identical. There are some differences that are more practical logistic considerations. The Pfizer product requires, for storage, that it be kept extremely cold. The Moderna vaccine is stable at more normal freezer, long-term storage temperatures. Also, the Moderna vaccine comes in a smaller minimum order.
Based on trials of over 30,000 and 40,000 people, the vaccines have been found to be about 95 percent effective in creating neutralizing antibodies. More than 200 companies all over the world have worked on developing vaccines for the virus since the outbreak began.
Swift says the plan will be for each state to distribute their first round of vaccines to frontline healthcare workers in order of priority based on occupational risk before moving to other groups including residents of long-term care facilities and members of the greater public.
Dr. Abinash Virk is an infectious disease physician at Mayo. She says she understands why so many people are hesitant to get the vaccine.
People are hesitant because they feel that the timeline was very rapid. There are a couple of reasons why they happened really fast and why it's okay for us to understand that no shortcuts were taken. The mRNA technology has been studied for other things for a long long time, so this wasn't a brand new thing or concept that happened in March.
Virk says common side-effects include chills, body aches, fatigue, and headaches. She says these side-effects seem to be less severe in people ages 65 and up.
Two recipients in the U.K. had severe allergic reactions. Virk says when the vaccine is distributed in the U.S., people with a history of anaphylaxis, women who are pregnant or lactating, and children will not be recommended for immunization.
Like various other vaccines, COVID-19 immunization will come in the form of two shots. The first will establish a degree of immune response and the second will serve as a booster to create more robust and longer-lasting immunity.
Virk says it is unclear how big of an impact the vaccine will have on the overall transmission and number of asymptomatic cases of the virus and how long the immunity will last.