What we know so far on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna is the second pharmaceutical company to release information on the effectiveness of its vaccine. Pfizer recently reported a 90% effective rate. Now, Moderna offers up a 94.5% report. To many, that’s very good news. To others, like Jill Simonian, who owns TheFabMom.com parenting blog, there are questions.

She tells FOX 11, “I want to know why we should risk-taking this vaccine when it’s brand new and giving it to our children at this point.”

Simonian is not against vaccinations, but as a mom of two girls, she has strong feelings about how quickly the COVID-19 vaccines are being produced. We took her concerns to UCLA Emergency Medicine Professor Matt Waxman who told us, “For kids, we have not frankly seen a ton of kids die from the disease. There are some kids - a small subset - has gotten infected and pretty sick. But, that's the minority. This has really affected primarily adults.”


• Pfizer vaccine trials 90 percent effective
• Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective

Waxman concedes it is fast. Especially since - as he puts it - the Ebola vaccine took five years to make. It used to take 10. The COVID-19 vaccines are taking 18 months to two years, he says, when they used to take five years. And, it may even be faster than that.

Both he and infectious disease specialist Dr. Suman Radhakrishna at Dignity Health California Hospital believe it’s because of those experiences.

Dr. Radhakrishna says, “It is fast, but understand that medical science and biological science have advanced enough to do it.”

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Jill Simonian’s point questioning the need for kids to get a vaccine when there’s not much evidence of the virus widely affecting them is something we asked Dr. Waxman. To the UCLA professor, whether it's kids or grownups, he feels researchers are meeting a very high bar.

He says, “As a parent and a physician, I don’t feel this vaccine has been rushed, in terms of safety. One trial has 44,000 patients. The other has over 20,000. That’s really the standard in a trial so they’ve met this pretty high standard. We’ll have at least total of four vaccines and probably over 100,000 patients. As a parent, that’s good enough for me.”

To Jill Simonian, it’s all about risk vs. benefit. She wants to know more. That makes sense and it’ll be up to individuals to make those decisions about whether to get a vaccination, but to Dr. Radhakrishna, the whole experience is exhausting.

She says, “We are all so ready for COVID to be over.”

Meanwhile, with a 90% effectiveness as reported from the Pfizer vaccine and almost 95% for Moderna Dr. Waxman says, “I think it gives us all a tremendous amount of hope we’re going to have vaccinated health care workers and people out there who are able to have some protection from this. I think we’re still going to be wearing masks for a while and for us health care workers, this gives us a lot of hope at the end of this race.”