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'I'm encouraged'

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | December 3, 2020 1:00 AM

HAYDEN — Mayor Steve Griffitts said Wednesday if and when a coronavirus vaccine is ready, he will take it.

“Yes, I would,” he said.

Griffitts was among several hundred officials who participated in a White House-sponsored teleconference on COVID-19 on Wednesday, and he was encouraged by what he heard.

He said based on details of the phone call, a vaccine could be ready for the public within four weeks.

“This process will go quickly,” he said.

The call included Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Griffitts said both spoke with confidence in the effectiveness of two vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses, and one made by Moderna, a biotech company.

He said Fauci outlined his hopes that people would not be afraid to get the vaccine and provided some details of the process of getting it approved and distributed soon.

The virus has been credited with the deaths of more than 270,000 in the U.S.

“The states are the ones that will truly decide who gets the vaccines first,” Griffitts said.

He said his understanding is the vaccine would be given only to those who want it — it would not be a mandate.

Meantime, the Associated Press reported that Britain became the first country in the world to authorize a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and could be dispensing shots within days.

In giving the go-ahead for emergency use of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, Britain vaulted past the United States by at least a week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not scheduled to consider the vaccine until Dec. 10.

While some have pointed out there is a flu vaccine and people still get the flu, Griffitts said health officials have not said a vaccine against the coronaivurs virus would be 100% effective, but the protection rate would be “very high.”

“Far greater than any other vaccine,” Griffitts said.

Fauci, in the phone call, said a reason the vaccine was produced fairly quickly was because billions of dollars went to the companies so they could immediately move forward. That doesn't mean they have not been thoroughly vetted, he said.

“He was very adamant that the vaccines are going to be safe,” Griffitts said.

According to Science Daily, Moderna hopes to provide the U.S. government with 20 million doses by the end of the year, and Pfizer says it should have 50 million doses to split between the United States and other countries that made advanced purchase agreements.

There are doubters.

Science Daily reported that a study in October highlighted potential global hesitancy to accept a COVID-19 vaccine. Based on data collected with the previously validated COVID-SCORE survey of a sample of over 13,400 individuals from 19 countries that have been hard-hit by the virus, the investigators found that 72 percent of participants would likely take the vaccine.

"Of the remaining 28 percent, 14 percent would refuse, while 14 percent would hesitate, which translates into tens of millions of potential vaccine avoiders," Science Daily reported.

While many in America have expressed worries about the vaccine, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Britain’s decision to push ahead with a vaccine “should give Americans additional confidence in the quality of such a vaccine.”

Griffitts has been taking part in the White House calls — about the virus, public safety and other health data — every two weeks for several months. This was the 19th and lasted about 90 minutes.

He said from what he heard Wednesday, there is an opportunity for life to return to normal — in his opinion meaning no masks and no more government-ordered shutdowns of businesses — in the months ahead.

Such a time could be closer than most think, he said.

“I’m encouraged in the short term we’ll have the opportunity to move our economy forward,” he said.