We could be just around the corner from getting a coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer (PFE -0.61%) and BioNTech (BNTX -3.18%) announced promising efficacy results for experimental COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 last week. Moderna could have good news on the way any day now. In this Fool Live video taped on Nov. 10, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Keith Speights discuss how long it might take for the availability of coronavirus vaccines to help the U.S. move past the pandemic.
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Corinne Cardina: David asked, "How long will it take for a vaccine for COVID help to change the current landscape of wearing masks and Zooming all the time. What if many people with misinformation refuse to take it?"
Dr. Nissola talked about this public trust in a vaccine is critical. Keith, do you have any thoughts on this? I think we definitely want to be conservative and not just rip the mask off the second you get a vaccine. We still have to protect other people once we personally have taken the vaccine. Masks are probably going to say, pretty important.
Keith Speights: Exactly. Corinne, I think you and I talked about this very question a couple of weeks ago. Probably the biggest misconception about the coronavirus vaccines is that they are silver bullets and will immediately change the dynamics of the pandemic.
Look, Pfizer's news is wonderful. If we have one or more vaccines that are 90 percent effective, that's going to be great. It's going to help a lot, but it's not going to be immediate.
We're going to be wearing masks for a while. I'm expecting this time next year maybe we'll be at a point where we can start to relax the mask-wearing and social distancing. But that's not even a guarantee.
I think we're looking at probably a good part of another year of continuing these measures. But, David's question is right, though, that if enough people take the vaccine, that will help. That's going to help us turn the corner. Definitely, if there are vaccines that are as effective as what we've seen with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate, that's going to be great. That's going to really help.
I do think a higher efficacy will encourage more Americans to receive the vaccine. Let's say if the vaccine had only been 50 percent effective, which was the FDA threshold. Well, I think a lot of folks would say, "I don't want to take a vaccine that's only a 50-50 shot at helping me." But 90 percent, that's going to give you a bigger level of confidence -- a greater level of confidence.
I do think that part of the issue will be how Americans think the FDA is handling this, and I think the FDA knows all eyes are on the agency. My hunch is that they're going to handle this in a very professional way. They're going to convene an advisory committee. They're going to listen to what that advisory committee recommends, and go along with it. They don't have to go along with it. I suspect they will.
That advisory committee will be made up and is made up of industry experts from outside the government, from the private sector, from academia. I think Americans will be able to have confidence that if the FDA gives emergency use authorization to a vaccine, that it's going to be safe and effective.