Pfizer Announces Breakthrough With Vaccine

RMHS Science Teachers Weigh In

Pfizer Announces Breakthrough With Vaccine

Catherine Adams ('21) and Ella Ramos ('21)

Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, announced last week a promising breakthrough with a 90% success rate for their vaccine trials as the desperate race for a coronavirus vaccine continues.

With a recent large spike in cases per day, the United States may be seeing another wave of the coronavirus as we head into the winter. Many people are fearful for the worst, but scientists are on our side to help with reassurance. The new possible vaccine is a surprise and hopefully a relief for the American people. With it being fast tracked, many are skeptical about the possible side effects and credibility of the company and drug. Though it could prove as a breakthrough for the world as we know, if it’s rushed there can be grave consequences.

The thing that makes the virus so infectious, might turn out to be its undoing in terms of vaccine development…”

— Mr. Albright, RMHS Science Teacher

 

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO in an press release on the company’s website. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”

Right now, clinical trials are still in progress. But, Pfizer reported the 43,538 participants have showed no serious safety concerns. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, “If we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine, and you have on the one hand an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago.” 

As the Reading community has recently gone back to school and contracted more cases, how are staff and students feeling?

Despite the high success rate, the widespread availability of the vaccine could still be a year away.”

— Mr. McIntire, RMHS Science Teacher

 

Science teacher, Mr. Albright shared, “From what I understand, much of the targeted area for vaccination is the spike protein, the structure that allows the virus to infect cells, which appears to be very mutationally stable. The thing that makes the virus so infectious, might turn out to be its undoing in terms of vaccine development, which also bodes well for maintaining effectiveness.”

“Despite the high success rate, the widespread availability of the vaccine could still be a year away.” Physics teacher, Mr. McIntire shared, “That said, I think the high success rate means that every effort will be made to move it through the FDA approval phases as efficiently as possible. Also, with vaccines a longitudinal study (over many years) is needed to truly assess the success of the vaccine, but it doesn’t seem to me that the accelerated track to FDA approval is reckless.”

For RMHS students, this could possibly be the start of a long chain towards a normal year. Senior Sophia Sinagra shared, “I think that if a vaccine becomes readily available to the public then things should be able to return to how it was, but I think in order for that happen everyone has to wear masks and socially distance until the vaccine is ready for people to take.”

As Reading Memorial High School students and staff continue their in person classes, many are concerned about the possibility of contracting the disease. As we don’t have access to a vaccine yet, students and teachers are doing the best to maintain a clean environment. New traditions have been created like sanitizing desks in between classes, sitting six feet apart from each other, seeing half your class on the smartboard, and much more. But how long will we need to rely on these traditions before we are secured with a vaccine or other possibility?