Health expert says we get closer to a COVID vaccine each day, but there’s still a ways to go

ATLANTA — Health experts across the world all agree on one thing: we will not move past COVID-19 until there is a safe, effective vaccine available for the bulk of the world’s population.

Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer spoke with Stuart Henderson on Friday. He works with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on a daily basis.  He says we still have a ways to go to get to a safe vaccine for the virus.

“We have four which are in wider testing that we’re looking at effectiveness and ultimately that’s the path to approval,” Henderson said.

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Farmer asked Henderson if once a vaccine is developed, will it need to be reevaluated every year like the flu vaccine?

“With coronavirus, we’re seeing a smaller number of mutations and what we know today is that we’re seeing a slow mutation rate of corona compared to flu,” Henderson said. “Right now, in the short term, two doses of these vaccines appears to be the story to give people immunity, and it’s what we’re hoping, and we’ll figure out how long people have immunity for.”

“As we give it to large populations, we have to stay focused on safety as our No. 1 concern. We’re going to give this to lots of people, billions of people around the world, and these vaccines have to be safe. There’s no short cut for that,” Henderson said.

“Do you believe that we’ll sort of feel about the way we do the flu? It stinks if you get it, you really don’t want it. You really want to get your coronavirus shot and you don’t really think much about it beyond that. Do you think that’s where we’ll be?” Farmer asked Henderson.

“I always believe that the scientists around the world will defeat the disease. I work in an industry where pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, where scientists come to work every day with the ambition to defeat the world’s most significant diseases. We still need to develop medicines that will support people and help them through coronavirus should they catch it,” Henderson said.

Henderson reminded Farmer that at one time getting AIDS was a death sentence, but now it’s treatable.

He said he believes with more than 160 vaccine trials underway around the world right now, it’s not if but when we will have a vaccine.