PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — During the first presidential debate of 2020, President Donald Trump reassured voters of his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He furthered his promise to Americans that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready in November.
However, some of the area’s top medical experts say the potential for a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine before the end of 2020 is low, and even if there is a successful vaccine, it will not end the pandemic.
During a press conference on Tuesday, UPMC’s Dr. Graham Snyder said “that won’t stop the need to get tested if you’re symptomatic, to wear a mask, to physically distance.”
Proving a vaccine protects the immune system and reduces the risk of exposure requires years of research, according to officials. Dr. Amy Hartman, a vaccine researcher at UPMC, told KDKA “typically, it can take over 10 years to develop a vaccine.”
That is why chief medical officers from UPMC are doubtful a COVID-19 vaccination will be made widely available this year.
“As scientists with a long track record of experience in this field, this is simply not going to happen,” said Dr. David A. Nace, chief medical officer at UPMC Senior Communities, during a press conference on Tuesday.
Big drug companies like Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are racing for a coronavirus vaccine. Some are already enrolling thousands in Stage 3 clinical trials. But Hartman told KDKA that trials require months of follow up.
“If you only monitor people for four weeks after their last vaccine, an adverse event could happen after that and you wouldn’t have caught it,” said Dr. Hartman.
When there is a vaccine, doctors encourage the public to do research and prepare for more waiting. According to researchers, scaling up production of the vaccine will take a considerable amount of time.
“When there is a vaccine, it will be rolled out in planed ways to the most vulnerable people first,” said Dr. Hartman.