‘We’re seeing a positive glimmer of hope,’: UT Health SA doctor says as Pfizer vaccine inches closer to approval

“Surprisingly, we may see shipments to the San Antonio area as early as next month..."

SAN ANTONIO – Texas is one of many states in the U.S. that is seeing another coronavirus surge; however, with the latest vaccine news, there is a sort of cautious optimism in the air.

Dr. Robert Leverence, with UT Health San Antonio, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the timetable for the vaccine and what we can expect to see during the holidays this year.

“Surprisingly, we may see shipments to the San Antonio area as early as next month, a few weeks from now, which hey, if it’s if it’s approved and is proven effective, then we’re on our way to finally, you know, overcoming this deadly virus,” Dr. Leverence said.

Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine is said to be 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results, according to a recent Associated Press report. The company has estimated that it could have 50 million doses available globally by the end of this year.

Dr. Leverence said as for the Alamo City, it could be one of the cities that starts getting the vaccine sooner rather than later.

“Each state would get their share of the vaccine based on their incidence rates of Covid-19. And then I have to imagine each city would get a cut of that share based on a similar formula. So that’s how it would come down. So again, if we do get supplies within the next few weeks, they’ll be limited for sure. And so they’ll certainly be going toward health care workers and those that are most vulnerable, you know, nursing homes or those that are immunosuppressed with chronic conditions. It probably won’t be until, you know, the new year and well into the spring, maybe in the summer for everybody who needs to be vaccinated will be vaccinated,” Dr. Leverence said.

Pfizer’s vaccine isn’t the only one that’s moving forward. Dr. Leverence said there are five or six other vaccines that are all in phase three trials as well.

“The FDA has this category of emergency use authorization, which is a facilitated process. And so it can be as soon as the next couple of weeks. So we’re anticipating a pretty quick pass through. But again, safety is absolutely critical and I think that’s what’s going to hinge on the approval of this particular vaccine. Now, the good thing is there’s probably five or six other vaccines, all in phase three trials, right behind Pfizer. So we should be seeing data on those vaccines as well. And so, once again, we’re optimistic. For the first time, we’re seeing a positive glimmer of hope in regard to this pandemic,” Dr. Leverence said.

But until there is a vaccine that is widely distributed, we are facing another deadly and dangerous surge.

“Texas is getting hit pretty hard right now, like a lot of the rest of the country. You know, for pandemics like this, it’s typical to have a seesaw pattern. And so, we’re just heading toward another crest... On the other hand, though, clearly the severity of these crests have been linked mostly to home gatherings and public gatherings as well. So once again, our behavior is definitely playing a role in this,” Dr. Leverence said.

With Thanksgiving nearing, Dr. Leverence said it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re attending a gathering.

“Wearing a mask when you’re not eating, you know, sitting or standing six feet apart. If you’re vulnerable, elderly, you have a chronic disease, it’s best not to attend that gathering. So that’s the message that we’re reaching for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year,” Dr. Leverence said.

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Leverence in the video player above.

RELATED: Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective

About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.