Vaccine Race: The Pfizer Vaccine with William Schaffner, MD


The Vanderbilt Professor of Preventive Medicine shares thoughts on the first potential COVID-19 vaccine, at a time of record new daily cases.

Episode highlights

0:00 Note on mRNA-1273
What’s the real race?
3:59 Vaccine Tracker Update
6:15 Introducing Dr. William Schaffner
7:05 How good is 90% efficacy?
8:45 Next steps for Pfizer
11:55 Could new cases pressure the FDA?
15:06 Storing, distributing mRNA vaccines
19:30 What about Moderna?
22:35 Long-term monitoring needs
24:05 Other promising candidates
27:25 Achieving herd immunity
31:08 A new President’s effect on vaccines
34:10 Life after vaccination
35:51 Outro

Editor's note: This interview and episode was recorded and produced prior to the November 16 announcement that Moderna's vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 was associated with 94.5% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in preliminary phase 3 COVE trial data. Though the candidate and the mRNA platform is discussed throughout the podcast, more updated coverage of mRNA-1273 will be made available on throughout the coming weeks.

In matter of 2 weeks, a series of significant clinical, public health, and otherwise factors greatly influenced the current state of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine progress.

From promising preliminary phase 3 data from Pfizer and BioNTech, to record surges in new cases and hospitalizations across the US, and to a Presidential election laden with public health policy implications, the makeup of COVID-19 pandemic response is entirely different from what it was weeks ago.

It is only bound to change even more greatly in just a couple more weeks. Before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is able to weigh on the potentially first COVID-19 vaccine to submit an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and kick off an unprecedented distribution and real-world monitoring process, it’s crucial to assess where things stand now, and what’s coming up.

This week’s Vaccine Race podcast features an interview with William Schaffner, MD, professor of Preventive Medicine and Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Schaffner discusses his own impression of the new Pfizer preliminary data for candidate BNT162, whether the current US rate of 150,000-plus new daily cases could pressure the FDA to further expedite a vaccine, what vaccine distribution, storage, and immunization will entail, and what a new administration would (or would not) mean for COVID-19 response and vaccine development.

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