Top U.S. health officials are urging Americans to be patient, with the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine as little as days away from approval.
Even if Pfizer‘s shot gets greenlit after Food and drug Administration (FDA) officials review the firm’s trial data on Thursday, the vaccine won’t be an instant silver bullet to reduce the number or people dying from COVID-19 in the U.S., Dr Anthony Fauci warned on Monday.
‘It’s likely you’re not going to see a measurable diminution for at least several weeks or if not longer,’ Dr Fauci said during a CNN interview.
‘But it will come, I guarantee you.’
In the meantime, Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams begged Americans to be patient and not let their guards down in the final moments before the arrival of vaccines.
‘My colleagues are dog tired and we need you to hang on just a little bit longer because we’ve got vaccines coming,’ he said, addressing Americans in a separate CNN interview.
‘But we want as many people to be alive to get them as possible,’ he added in a grim warning.
The U.S. hit record-high daily deaths on Wednesday and again on Thursday of last week, with 2,804 and 2,879 fatalities, respectively. In the past week, 15,426 Americans died of coronavirus.
Dr Anthony Fauci warned that it will take weeks for the effect of coronavirus vaccines to show up in U.S. death rates because people need two doses and death rates lag behind the spread of the virus during a Monday CNN interview
Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams urged Americans to ‘hang on just a little bit longer’ and keep wearing masks and socially distancing ‘because the vaccines are coming’
The U.S. is now losing more than 2,200 people a day to the virus, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
Vaccines made my Pfizer and Moderna both appeared to prevent more than than 90 percent of people got the shots from developing COVID-19 in trials.
There were also early signs that that the shots could prevent people from becoming severely or life-threateningly ill from coronavirus.
Markets surged and people the world over breathed a sigh of relief when the two companies announced the outcomes of their trials last month.
Health chiefs in the U.S. have painted very different pictures of how long it will take before either promising shot is available.
Some say within 24 hours of the first vaccine’s authorization, which could come as early as Thursday, when Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials review Pfizer’s vaccine.
States were told last week to expect their first doses on December 15, and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that it could be within the ‘next week, or two or three.’
States are doing simulation vaccinations for Pfizer’s shots in preparation for the arrival of the vaccines, which will likely happen next week
PFizer’s vaccine will be reviewed by FDA regulators on Thursday
But even if it arrived today, coronavirus cases and deaths wouldn’t suddenly plummet tomorrow, and Americans need to set their expectations accordingly, Dr Fauci said.
The effects will take time as immunity to the virus become widespread.
‘When you vaccinate people – not only the health care workers, but vulnerable people, for example in nursing homes – by the time they get an immunity, which would be, you know, you have a prime and then you have a boost and then you have seven to 10 days after the boost.’
Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines are given two doses.
Pfizer’s two shots have to be given three weeks – 21 days – apart.
Moderna’s shot has to be given four weeks apart.
It takes an estimated seven to 10 days for the body to generate protective levels of antibodies and immunity to coronavirus in response to the vaccines.
That means that at a bare minimum, the first wave of about 6.4 million people to get vaccinated with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, if it’s approved, would not be protected until nearly a month from now.
What’s more, trends in the pandemic come in waves: first cases rise or fall, then hospitalizations, and then deaths. The lag time between peaks or valleys between cases and deaths rates is typically about three weeks.
So the first inklings that coronavirus fatalities are trending downward might not come for nearly two months.
And in the final days of waiting for the vaccines to be rolled out, Surgeon General Dr Adams is afraid people aren’t taking the virus seriously enough.
‘It’s really concerning to me that we still have people out there who don’t understand how much spread is occurring by people who don’t have symptoms, who think they’re fine, and then we find out a week later that they’ve tested positive and they’ve exposed other people,’ Dr Adams told CNN.