LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the United Kingdom officially begins its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we are inching closer to the same here in the United States. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new data, giving more insight into how effective the COVID-19 vaccine really is.
The FDA says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe. But there are still some unanswered questions.
“It’s more effective perhaps than imagined,” said Dr. Marc J. Kahn, Dean of the UNLV School of Medicine.
A stunning success, that is how medical experts are describing the COVID-19 vaccine. While Pfizer’s vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective, there are still questions about how it will impact certain groups.
“We don’t know anything about this vaccine in children yet. We also don’t know about this vaccine in pregnant women,” Dr. Kahn said.
Dr. Kahn adds that there is a similar uncertainty for those with terminal illnesses and compromised immune systems.
“Once the vaccine is widely available, we’re going to get some data as to the safety in those populations,” Dr. Kahn said.
However, the data that is available is promising. The FDA released new numbers Tuesday, showing encouraging success rates in minority communities, and it is especially important in Nevada, where the virus has hit Latinos the hardest.
“As a woman of color, as well as a healthcare professional, it was really nice to see that in the demographics that they did really have a lot of study participants that came from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Christina Madison, an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences.
The vaccine also did well across age groups.
“Not only did they have similar responses, but in some cases actually they had less of a likelihood of experiencing side effects from the vaccine if they were older,” Dr. Madison said.
But there is still the big question of how long the vaccine will remain effective.
“Whether it lasts one year, three years, or five years, or ten years, we just don’t know,” Dr. Kahn said.
The FDA will bring its data to a panel of independent scientists later this week to decide whether to grant Pfizer’s vaccine emergency use authorization. If that happens, vaccines could be administered as soon as this weekend or next week.