By CARA HUNT
Tribune Features Writer
With two major pharmaceutical companies announcing significant progress in a potential COVID- 19 vaccine, Tribune Health asked Bahamians how comfortable they would feel taking an early version of the drug.
Yesterday, Moderna announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is proving highly effective in a major trial.
The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study.
A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc announced its own vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US.
The results are “truly striking,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert. Earlier this year, Dr Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60 per cent effective.
Around the world, life as we know it has been put on pause while medical researchers scramble for a vaccine.
Here in the Bahamas, many welcome the news of a potential light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel.
“This is great news,” said Marie, “I am so happy to know that we are at least a bit closer to ending this COVID-19 nightmare. I wish we could do test runs here. I don’t buy into all the conspiracy theories. These vaccines have immense quality control each step of the way and so I am sure that when they say it is ready for humans, it will be safe. I think a vaccine is the only way we will be able to even begin to have some semblance of a normal life. I don’t think it will eliminate COVID all together, but it will at least slow down the rate of the spread so bring it on.”
While Dee agrees that it is good news, she is concerned about how fast it seems to have come about.
“I believe in vaccinations, I do. I was vaccinated, and I vaccinated my children, but I am bit fearful that they are racing to say it’s ready because they want to be able to get things opened again. I don’t want the cure to be worse than the disease. So even if it is available here, I don’t want to be in that first set trying to get it. Let some time pass, I don’t think I will feel safe until they have had time to see how people react for at least another year.”
“I think our focus should not be on the vaccination, but on learning to live with COVID-19, like social distancing and mask wearing and smaller gatherings,” she said.
“The reason I say that is because I feel like the science needs time. We need to get COVID under a control a bit more. I think people just think that the vaccine will be the miracle thing and be 100 percent effective, and so they will throw common sense out the window. But we still need to be careful.”
Leslie said she is very sceptical of a vaccine.
“All you hear is that vaccines need so many years to be be created and be safe. Now after what, eight months, all of a sudden they have a vaccine for it and it safe? No ma’am, you won’t be using me as no guinea pig. I wish they would all get together to work on cancer like they did this COVID,” she said.