Vaccine Expert: Once A COVID Vaccine Is Available, ‘Don’t Overthink It. Don’t Wait’

Terry Gross

As coronavirus cases continue to surge both in the U.S. and around the world, there’s promising news on the vaccine front. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and, more recently, AstraZeneca have all announced that their vaccines have shown better-than-expected results.

Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, says that a vaccine release could begin for selected populations by the middle of December — and that a broader vaccination effort could soon follow.

“By the early part of next year, we’re going to move pretty quickly, I think, in vaccinating a significant percentage of the [U.S.] population,” Hotez says.

Hotez says that at present, all the vaccines in development work similarly, by inducing an immune response to the spike protein of the virus.

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“One of the questions that I’m asked all the time is, ‘Hey, doc, which vaccine are you waiting for?’ And the answer is … I’m going to take any of those vaccines that’s made available to me that’s authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” he says. “Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait. Get what vaccine you can.”

For two decades, Hotez and his team have worked to develop low-cost global health vaccines. Now, with COVID-19, they’re working on developing a vaccine that he hopes could be produced locally, so low- and middle-income countries aren’t reliant on the U.S. or Europe for production.

“We signed an agreement with Biological E., based in India, in Hyderabad, and they are now scaling this up to 1.2 billion doses, testing it across India,” Hotez says. “It’s very exciting for us to make a contribution. We’ve never made a billion of anything before — so that’s pretty exciting also.”

Despite this good news, Hotez urges people to continue physical distancing and wearing masks.

“Don’t be lax with it now, especially with the holidays,” he says. “It’s especially tragic if one of your loved one loses their life or has permanent, long-lasting injury during this period because it’s just a matter of staying disciplined for the next couple of months and getting them to the other side.” – (Source) npr.org

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