UC Davis doctors hopeful but cautious about latest results of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Doctors within the University of California, Davis Health system are hopeful but cautious after clinical trials for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine showed promising results.

The UC Davis Medical Center is one of the sites for Pfizer’s clinical trials.

“The sooner we get a vaccine on the market, the sooner we’ll save lives,” said Dr. Allison Brashear, the dean at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

In August, the medical center started doling out shots to 230 patients locally, a small portion of the nearly 44,000 people taking part in the study across the world.

“A group of patients were given placebo — essentially, the shot with no active vaccine. The others were given an active vaccine,” Brashear explained. 

Months later, they’re hearing some results from Pfizer with early data showing the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.

“Great news for the community. Great news for research. This is a new day that there’s maybe some light at the end of the tunnel,” Brashear said.

However, the company has not released many details and the data could change before the study is over.

With clear progress being made toward a potential vaccine, Sacramento County is ramping up plans for distribution.

“We always start out with the target of vaccinating everybody, so 1.5 million for Sacramento,” said Sacramento County public health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

County officials said they are scoping out sites for vaccine clinics.

“Mainly what we’re looking for is easy access and large spaces so that we can have a large number of people,” Kaisrye said.

A large space is desired so visitors can maintain social distancing and still have space for equipment, including refrigerators, since most vaccines must be kept cold.

Country officials said they are considering Sleep Train Arena and Cal Expo, as well as community sites currently being used for COVID-19 testing.

Health officials plan to use $3 million in CARES Act funding for supplies, “making sure we have things like needles, syringes and bandages,” Kaisrye said.

The percentage of people needed to take the vaccine to achieve herd immunity will vary based on how effective the vaccine ends up being.

Doctors said they just hope enough people will be willing.

“We can protect more people and open more businesses and help people return back to their normal lives,” Kaisrye said.

Sacramento County officials said the first round of shots could be given out as early as December to health-care workers. The next round would go to the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

County officials said the general population shouldn’t expect a dose until spring or summer of 2021.

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