Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael Rose
McLeod Sr. Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer
The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines are now approved and becoming available. McLeod Sr. Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Michael Rose describes the vaccine’s promise.
Here are the major points of Dr. Rose’s comments:
In phase one, the COVID-19 epidemic was a new virus, something not recognized by our immune systems. We’d never seen it before. It’s a very easily spread virus. It can spread in people, who are asymptomatic, and it can be spread by people before they have symptoms. It’s about five times as contagious as the flu.
As a result, COVID-19 very rapidly went through our communities. Once it’s inside the body, coronavirus takes over the cells and reproduces itself massively, killing the cell before moving on to the next. Inside the body, it doesn’t just stop in the lungs. It goes onto the kidneys, the liver, the brain, the blood vessels, and overwhelms the body’s immune system.
If you take a rapidly moving virus that spreads very easily in the community and spreads somewhat silently, at first, it creates the big surge that we saw in February and March. At that point, the shutdown of the economy, people hunkering down, social distancing and the mask mandates took a lot of the energy out of the pandemic. It calmed things down enough to stabilize, while we tried to learn more about how to treat and manage the virus.
So for me, the moment I knew we had a problem came shortly after the first case in South Carolina was diagnosed. Within a week or two of that happening, it became apparent to me that there was going to be an explosion. By the time we reached the point where the President was calling for a national lockdown, it struck me as almost too late given how far and wide that virus was spreading. The computer models predicted it would be cataclysmic.
Tens of millions of people potentially could be vaccinated in a month. The first two vaccines to make it to market have been shown to be more than 95% effective. For vaccines, that’s like hitting a home run.
As you know, the flu vaccine generally may cover 50%- 70% of the flu. So, it’s not effective in half to a third of people. These first two coronavirus vaccines that have been released are effective in more than 95%. That’s really important. For the next two in the pipeline, early measurements show about 70% effectiveness. We’ll have three or four highly effective vaccines available and hundreds of millions of doses as we get into next year. Provided that patients and people take the vaccine, we should start to really knock down the spread of the virus.
The first vaccine released requires two doses, one dose followed by a second dose at three weeks. Four weeks after that first dose. One week after the second dose you’re virtually immune from the COVID-19. There are a number of people, particularly in the high risk categories within a week of having completed the second round of the vaccine, will be much less likely to contract COVID.
The vaccinations, along with continued masking and social distancing, should significantly knock down the virus. And should the vaccine be released in tens of millions or hundreds of millions, by the time we get to late spring or summer, you’ll see is that COVID-19 will be very substantially controlled — not eliminated — but very substantially controlled.
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