SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many are wondering when a COVID-19 vaccine will become available, and when it does, how safe it will be.
Recently, South Dakota has seen higher numbers of hospitalizations and active cases due to COVID-19.
That has many wondering about a vaccine.
“This vaccine development is moving very quickly and Sanford Health, like many other health care organizations and public health organizations is watching it closely. It’s almost every day there are new developments. So we’re staying on top of planning in a very, flexible, and fast-moving environment,” Dr. Susan Hoover said.
Sanford Health infectious disease physician Dr. Susan Hoover says vaccines must go through several stages of evaluation, beginning with cells and chemicals in the lab and eventually leading to human evaluations.
“There are several stages of trials in human beings, starting with small groups of usually healthy volunteers, looking carefully at its safety, any bad effects that might have, and then progressing to larger groups of people and seeing whether it actually prevents infection,” Hoover said.
In the past, she says vaccines have taken anywhere from decades to just four years to be developed, which is why she says it’s hard to compare one to another.
Now with modern biomedical technology, she says vaccines have the potential to be developed faster.
“The modern technology, modern interest in the world is wealthier than it was in the 1960s. There’s a lot of resources available to try and develop, vaccines faster without sacrificing safety. Of course, that would be the paramount concern,” Hoover said.
Even if a vaccine is approved or licensed, she says there won’t be enough to cover everyone right away. But those on the frontlines may be the first to get it.
“There’s not been a firm declaration about who would be the first person or the first group of people to receive a vaccine. We can say that it’s likely to be groups such as health care providers, people working with sick people, first responders, people who might be at risk of exposure to people who are sick and may not know that they’re sick,” Hoover said.
Most importantly though, she says it won’t come out if it’s not safe.
For more information on COVID-19 research happening right here in South Dakota, make sure to tune into our HealthBeat Special: COVID-19 Research tomorrow night at 6:30 PM on KELO-TV.