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Experts breakdown how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 10:40 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 23:18:47-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective. U.B. Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Thomas Russo said the vaccines are extraordinary.

“They’re highly efficacious, they have no serious safety signals, and they’re our ticket out of this COVID pandemic mess,” Russo said.

For perspective, the CDC says the flu vaccine is 40-60% effective. Dr. Russo adds that out of the more than 70,000 people in both vaccine trials only one person who received the vaccine has developed a serious coronavirus infection.

“That level of protection blows the influenza vaccines out of the water, and is really on par with our best vaccines such as the measles vaccine,” Russo said.

The New York Times spoke to several epidemiologists who said the conversation surrounding the vaccine is underselling how significant the vaccine is.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the county's message is clear.

“We are giving a strong message that everybody who is eligible for a vaccine should get vaccinated," Burstein said.

Currently, demand is outpacing supply in Erie County and the rest of the state. Dr. Russo believes the strong demand is a sign Western New Yorkers are serious about getting vaccinated.

There are no county-run appointments booked past this month.

“People really need to get immunized, however, they can’t let down their guard and pretend that COVID-19 is still not here right now, because right now there are a lot of susceptible people in our community," Burstein said. "Most people in our community have not received both doses."

As for some early concerns the vaccine would be rushed, Dr. Russo said that did not happen.

“These vaccines underwent the same rigorous review as all of our vaccines," he said.

Dr. Russo said even though the vaccine isn't perfect at preventing infection, it's virtually a cure.

"Even if you're in that very small percentage that doesn't get protected against symptomatic disease, it will not be serious disease, it will not be life threatening disease in all likelihood," he said. "And therefore, you could look at the vaccine this way, that if you get vaccinated, it's really virtually a cure from coronavirus infection."