Sec. Azar: Tennessee should be ready for November COVID-19 vaccine

Vandy expert isn't as hopeful
Posted at 10:24 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 23:56:04-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Tennessee should be ready to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as early as November 1.

Sec. Azar toured Vanderbilt University Medical Center's research unit Tuesday afternoon. VUMC is conducting clinical testing of one of three coronavirus vaccines that could be released to the American public.

Azar said states have been instructed to be ready to distribute a vaccine on November 1. Vanderbilt is taking part in a large trial involving 30,000 participants of a vaccine called Moderna.

Azar said he believes the vaccines are promising, but people should still be trying to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear your face covering when you can’t maintain social distance and stay out of settings where you can’t do those things,” said Azar during a press conference after his tour of Vanderbilt.

However, Vanderbilt University Infectious Disease Division Director told NewsChannel 5 he's hopeful that a vaccine will be developed, but that it realistically won't be ready for the public until 2021.

The three clinical trials currently going on across the country all involve large amounts of participants. The government's vaccine creation program called Operation Warp Speed funneled a large amount of money into the research.

Despite the hasty work being done, Azar said he doesn't believe any vaccine that's made will be unsafe.

"The safety trials are extensive," said Azar. He added that researchers are not cutting corners to make a faster vaccine. If there are safety concerns, they will stop the trials.