What do the results of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial mean?

Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts breaks down the results of Pfizer’s phase 3 clinical trial with Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the CDC.
6:39 | 11/10/20

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Transcript for What do the results of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial mean?
Tonight the grim covad nineteen record. More than sure in 38000 Americans dead now a flicker of hope. Early results from a late stage clinical vaccine trial from five's sure the vaccine is more than 90% effective and forbidding the corona virus that a placebo. So when might this vaccine be approved earlier this evening I spoke to doctor Richard vasser. Former acting director of the CDC and now the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Doctor Russert thank you so much for joining us first question Pfizer announced astounding results near vaccine trials what's your reaction. Well you know Byron I I think this is exciting I I always urged caution in until a company's results have been validated by. Impartial scientists spent. We have a vaccine that that's more than 90% effective that can be a real real game changer that's along the same. Level of protection that you get from a measles vaccine and the FDA had had set a threshold for approval. A for vaccine to anything about 50% reduction in risks of this it's very exciting news. As you know doctor felt she called the effective rate extraordinary. An unexpected did you ever think we'd get a vaccine that's this successful to deal with such a deadly violence. Well you know you always hope that you're gonna get a vaccine that's that's as good as as measles is as good as some of the best ones out there but there are a lot of vaccines we're the new level of protection is nowhere near that knew each year we we encourage people to get the flu vaccine. Knowing that any Goodyear reduce you're you're risk by about about about half. So you're this vaccine it's got some challenges in terms of of how you distribute it it's you'll take awhile to ramp up production. But if it holds up and it's as effective in the and longer periods of time as it's shown to be in his seven day evaluation. That could be absolutely incredible. Now to that point we know it's early but what we know about the safety of this tax. Well you know we don't know a lot yet the FDA is requiring that companies follow patients for a full two months. I ended this vaccine hasn't gotten through that cool period the other thing is that this team is using a new technology it's something called MR NEA. And that's never been used for a vaccine in humans before and so it's going to be really important to follow people. Even longer than that followed larger populations and make sure that the vaccine is not only effective but but it's six. Doc as you know Pfizer and three other companies are in late stage trials. What can the American people expect a vaccine to be widely available. Well you know there's a lot of effort going into it took planning you know there's vaccines where the government has already. They can start to roll out. There's been a lot of cleaning by this CDC and by state health departments in terms of how they would distribute vaccines when there there are available. But this vaccine if this vaccine pans out it's really not gonna have a big impact this winner here in the early course it will go to health care providers those who are in positions where there are at greatest risk. But it's not going to be widely distributed to the general public until this spring or or later than that. Stock cases have never been higher in our country we passed a ten million cases today at another surge a sweep in the country. Is there any thing we can be doing to get it under control before the vaccine comes. Well there is so much that we can be doing now one is that we we need to come together as a nation. And recognize that following. The recommendations a public health. Is the best way to get our economy up and running and this is staying way. It's a best way to protect each other. I it's the best way to make sure that our children are safe that are parents are safe. And it goes in our communities are safe. I'm hoping that now the election is is over. We can see governor stepping up in mediating masks eighty need to their states we just saw you touch through that and I that was a terrific move. We estimate that is if everyone in America wore wore masks in the appropriate time and and interactions. They're be tens of thousands of lives he could be saved and that's a small thing to ask people to do like. Any concern and all the news of of a possible vaccine may give the public a false sense of security. Well as you can be real concerns throughout this that it did a lot of people are saying there's a vaccine around the corner so YY need it inconvenience myself by by wearing a mask or keep him away from others reliving my behavior. And then those are the things that will save lives this winter and you know who needed this story's not fully in yet on this vaccine it well this news is encouraging. We need to see a longer period of time 28 days to see how it protects at that point we need to see how it does against Syria's Covert infections this. Initial result was against all infections and FDA wants to see how are predicts. Against the most serious infections. And then we need to look at safety gate and so you know while this is encouraging we're not here yet and I hope people. Step up and do the things because during the winter but it is virus is high time they love the winter viruses survive longer they stay in the air longer and we spend more time indoors and and that. Really favors the virus. And knock final question on you have talked about this plane times and are you concerned about this this notion of fatigue. They're nation the world's been dealing with us for a long time any sense with this vaccine possibly coming on the road. Any sense you thing when our nation when this world might get this virus under control. I do worried aren't about the issue of fatigue but as you look across the nation. And states that thought that well because there were rural and less densely populated data and have anything to worry about. We're seeing this the numbers of cases skyrocketing we're seeing hospitals Villa. And and states having to go to put in mobile kind of hostile units. Let's I'm hoping that this sense of fatigue doesn't overcome. People's. Ability and willingness to do those measures that will save lives. Because the models EO are only a prediction we have the ability to that. Too good to make those be removed those Muller's raw by doing things reduce the spread of this disease in our country in I hope that we can come together as as Americans endured for each other. Doctor Richard best for always grateful for your time your expertise we'll see down the road. Thanks so much for having great talk with the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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