Duke doctor gives insight on COVID-19 vaccine timeline, potential setbacks

Duke's Dr. Tony Moody wears a lot of hats. Under his title, he is the associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Immunology at Duke University School of Medicine and a laboratory director at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

In the past week and a half, Moderna, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly have all released details about their products that will aid in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Last week, Pfizer announced their COVID-19 vaccine to be 90 percent effective and would push for emergency use authorization from the FDA.

This week, the drug manufacturer improved the vaccine's efficacy to 95 percent.

Also, Eli Lilly said an outpatient clinical trial for their COVID-19 antibody treatment was effective enough to apply for the same authorization from the FDA.

Monday, drug manufacturer Moderna published insight into the 94.5 percent efficacy they touted.

With respect to Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, Dr. Moody said: "You're essentially training your body to see the virus and protect you against it."

In a Tuesday news conference, Dr. Mandy Cohen said North Carolina submitted its COVID-19 vaccine plan in which it states four phases of operation: Planning (phase 0), implementation (phase 1), adjustment (phase 2), and transition (phase 3).

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"The two products (Moderna and Pfizer) have a great advantage," said Moody. "They're relatively easy to manufacture. They're fairly easy to get from the laboratory to the clinical trials. And that's really why they got out of the gate first."

In terms of firsts in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper said in a Tuesday news briefing that frontline workers would be first in line to receive the vaccine.

While there is expectation as to who will be receiving the drug and when, Dr. Moody offered a bit of caution.

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Affecting the timeliness of the rollout would be material distribution and availability, such as stoppers and vials, that could keep the vaccine from being distributed sooner rather than later.



"Assuming the vaccines are evaluated in the right way," Dr. Moody said, "go through the process, there's transparency about the data, and all the side effects and everything else, and the FDA says this is good enough for release, then yes I think you can trust it."

Affecting the timeliness of the rollout would be material distribution and availability, such as stoppers and vials, that could keep the vaccine from being distributed sooner rather than later.

"There's going to be a hurdle these two vaccines face. And even if both vaccines are approved and move forward, it's going to take time before they can make the vaccine to really get it out there," said Dr. Moody.
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