Could a COVID-19 vaccine be coming to the Tri-Cities soon? This is what local experts are saying

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TRI-CITIES (WJHL)- There is hope tonight in the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer said early data shows its experimental vaccine may be as much as 90% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus.

Pfizer also said that companies participating in the large scale study have found no serious concerns so far.

News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant was in Kingsport today to learn more about a local medical group that participated in the study.

Holston Medical Group’s Kingsport and Bristol locations are part of a global vaccine study sponsored by Pfizer, which involves over 30,000 participants.

Nearly 400 of those participants are involved through HMG. Their study began in August, and participant recruitment ended in September.

Experts say that even after a vaccine is approved and distributed it will continue to be studied as it is in use.

“There’s no one more excited that a vaccine is coming then your local health officials because we know that the only effective way to achieve herd immunity is through an effective vaccine,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercy.

Pfizer Inc. announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine may be close to being distributed throughout the United States.

Dr. Piercy explained what will happen when Pfizer files an emergency use application with the FDA.

“When they finish their data collection, they will submit it to the FDA,” said Piercy, “The FDA has committed to a pretty quick turn around on that, within a week or two, and then very shortly after that, in a matter of hours, 24 to 48 hours, we could see distribution statewide.”

From there, Pfizer will work to distribute it across the country.

“I know that it’s going to be distributed through McKesson which is one of the largest, if not the largest, drug distributors around the country and that infrastructure is already in place,” explained Dr. Jonathan Moorman with East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine.

Health departments in the Tri-Cities are already working on their own plans.

“They’re called points of distribution or PODS,” said Dr. Stephen May with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, “The concept that we’ll use and we’ll be working with- both open PODS, which means working with the public, and also closed PODS that are, let’s say like hospitals that will give their own vaccine as we receive it.”

Dr. Moorman is a member of the Tennessee Coronavirus Taskforce and says those who are most susceptible will be the first to have access to a vaccine against the virus.

“There are other vaccines right around the corner.” said Dr. Moorman, “This is not the only vaccine. There are at least three others that are pretty far along.”

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