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Johns Hopkins Experts Address COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges, Realistic Timelines

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Johns Hopkins public health experts laid out challenges in distributing and administering coronavirus vaccines.

"A vaccine isn't going to work if you're not going to receive it," Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev of the Johns Hopkins Bloomber School of Public Health said. "Most likely, older adults will be prioritized. Health care workers will clearly be prioritized on the front line. The question then becomes what about essential workers? What about keeping the economy going?"

Moderna and Pfizer each started large-scale trials this week, the first in the U.S. NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said trials are moving at a rapid speed.


"We want to make sure that we're very transparent, that people appreciate that that speed is not compromising safety, nor is it compromising scientific integrity," Dr. Fauci said.

A reasonable timeline for wide distribution of vaccines is likely the end of 2021, according to Dr. Bar-Zeev.

"Even after we have a vaccine that works and even after we demonstrate its safety and efficacy and even after we've produced enough doses to go around, at least for the first round, we still need to get it delivered and that's going to be a big challenge," Dr. Bar-Zeev said. "What we're seeing is science live in real time. I think in the long run, that's good for science and that's good for community trust. In the short run, it leaves people feeling a little bit, say, uncomfortable."

Public faith in a vaccine may depend on politics, Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said.

"We're seeing this political partisanship playing out, sadly, also in terms of vaccine hesitancy," Dr. Schoch-Spana said. "For some, they may be anxious on whether a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Others may be mistrustful."

Dr. Schoch-Spana called on more federal leaders to commit any vaccine be free and available.

"We need the government to publically pledge that everyone that wants a vaccine can get one," Dr. Schoch-Spana said.

Dr. Bar-Zeev said older adults and health care workers will likely be prioritized over others once vaccines are approved.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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