Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses may be ready this year

The fight against COVID-19 has been long and difficult, but promising results from one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies mean there is an end in sight.

FOX6 News on Thursday, Nov. 12 spoke with Dr. John Raymond, the president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, about the progress of clinical trials and a possible timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Coronavirus uses us as hosts and as vectors to transmit the disease to other people," said Raymond.

As COVID-19 infections spike in Wisconsin, with close to 7,500 new cases reported on Thursday, news that a vaccine is on the horizon could not have come at a better time. 

"It’s more critical now than it ever has been," Raymond said. "And even better news, this vaccine is targeting what is called the spike protein of the virus. It’s a protein the virus uses to invade human cells." 

Raymond said Pfizer's vaccine is showing 90% efficacy and could be available in a matter of months.

"We fully expect this vaccine will be safe," said Raymond. "If Pfizer can get emergency use authorization from the FDA, they could distribute 15-20 million doses before the end of this calendar year."

Raymond said the first doses would likely go to health care workers, first responders and vulnerable, elderly patients.

Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin

"The company is very confident that they can provide 300 million doses by the spring. So it’s possible that by April, anyone who wants to be immunized will have that opportunity," Raymond said.

It's something to look forward to in the midst of a grim reality.

"The state set a new record this week for new cases, new hospitalizations and sadly, new deaths," said Dr. Ben Weston with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. "Please don’t take COVID lightly, and don’t underestimate your risk."

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Thursday also marked two weeks until Thanksgiving. Health experts encourage families not to gather with anyone outside of their immediate household.

Instead, they recommend virtual celebrations.

Milwaukee County health officials urge Thanksgiving caution

While each family will have to make their own plans, local health officials have reminders on how to minimize the spread of the virus.

Wisconsin officials call for action amid 'unrelenting' virus surge

This week's White House COVID-19 task force report described Wisconsin's increase in COVID-19 cases as "unrelenting."