Moderna, Pfizer Vaccine Candidates Show Promise

Early data shows Pfizer and Moderna's vaccine candidates are both over 90% effective.

Moderna, Pfizer Vaccine Candidates Show Promise
Bebeto Matthews / AP

President-elect Joe Biden's advisers say he'll meet with vaccine makers sometime this week. 

Dr. Hillary Fairbrother is an emergency physician in Houston who was hopeful about the vaccine news.

Fairbrother said it's "very exciting that these two vaccines are showing such efficacy and also just showing really great safety as well."

Both vaccine candidates require two separate injections. But they do have differences. Namely, refrigeration. Pfizer's needs to be stored at around minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But Moderna's, not as cold — around minus 4.

The question is how will this impact distribution and storage, especially in rural areas that may not be equipped for it. She tells me it may limit vaccine availability — at least early on — and gives Moderna a leg up.

Fairbrother said: "Most labs have a freezer that can keep liquids at a safe level, like the Moderna vaccine needs to be kept at minus 4 degrees. Also, the Moderna vaccine can live in a regular refrigerator — like a refrigerator like all of us have at home — for a month."

Midwestern states are feeling the brunt of recent surges in the coronavirus. States and cities there across the country are tightening restrictions, which could make COVID fatigue even worse. But Fairbrother says now is not the time to give up. She tells me we have better tools to treat the disease now than at the virus' outset. 

Fairbrother continued, "How to make sure that people get treatment, but if we outstrip our hospitals and our medical resources because there's too many sick at once, all of that goes out the window and we start to see the tragedy in this country multiply."

When cases and hospitalizations increase, so, too, does the strain on health care workers battling the virus. Fairbrother gets frustrated when people are focused on their individual rights instead of the pandemic. 

Fairbrother said: "This has been made into a hugely political issue, but really it's just a virus. It's just a pandemic, just a virus, and we need to treat it like that. So we need to take care of each other."