Doctors weigh potential benefits against risks of possibly rushed vaccine release

Governors have been put on notice: A COVID-19 vaccine could be ready this fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is eyeing November 1 and wants states to prepare for distribution on a "significant scale."

“It is anticipated that there will be 100 million doses of a vaccine by the end of the year,” White House coronavirus taskforce advisor Dr. Scott Atlas said.

University of South Florida Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist and associate professor, points out that the third phase of clinical trials is still going on.

“We’re a little bit worried that it’s rushing, but it’s rushing for what purpose? Because the light at the end of the tunnel is these phase-three trials getting completed, the phase-three trials are going to get completed probably by the end of November,” Dr. Teng explained.

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He says if distribution held off a few more weeks, “then you can have a complete data set and it’s properly powered, you have enough events, all the information that you need to really make a good, solid judgment for the safety and the efficacy of the different vaccines going out.”

FOX 13 asked Governor Ron DeSantis’ office if the state has a plan for when the vaccine is ready. The Florida Department of Health said in a statement that it is collaborating closely with the CDC on a pilot program.

Florida DOH said its leaders recently hosted a three-day preliminary meeting with CDC officials to initiate the development of a statewide distribution plan.

Whenever that is, Dr. Teng agrees that having a plan is crucial.

"If the phase-three trials are positive and the vaccine is good to go, I think the doses will be there and they’d need to be distributed right away,” Dr. Teng said.

A letter from the CDC went out to governors last Thursday saying the agency is rapidly preparing to implement large-scale distributions. The letter said any requirements that are potentially being waived in an effort to fast-track a vaccine, "will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed."