Berrien Co. Health Dept. urges continued vigilance following vaccine announcement

NOW: Berrien Co. Health Dept. urges continued vigilance following vaccine announcement

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Monday that initial trials of its COVID-19 vaccine were over 90% effective.

Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla appeared on Good Morning America to share the latest findings in their development of a vaccine after months of testing.

“We published safety data of approximately 6,000 patients back in October, right now we have 40,000 people who have received a second dose and the data that the independent committee received yesterday is matching the data we had at 6,000 people,” said Bourla.

Some of those volunteers were given the vaccine while some had a placebo dose, then the team looked at the first 94 confirmed cases and found that less than 10% of those who got the actual vaccine ended up positive.

While Pfizer now must wait for FDA approval, the company is prepared to make 50 million doses through its manufacturers – one being just north in Kalamazoo.

The news is also reassuring for health officials here at home as Berrien County continues to shatter records with its cases.

“At this time last month, we were averaging about 16 new cases each day, this week we’re averaging 77 new cases every day,” said Gillian Conrad, MPH, Communications Manager at the Berrien County Health Department. “The surge that we’re experiencing is sharper and more severe than any of the other surges we have experienced in this pandemic.”

As they continue to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 locally, the health department is getting prepared to distribute a vaccine when it comes as well.

“We’re going to be ready to receive those doses when they become available, we will have many vaccination drives and make sure there are lots of opportunities for people,” said Conrad.

Despite the cases to hospitalization ratio remaining low, the surge in positive tests has overwhelmed the Berrien County Health Department’s contact tracing efforts, so they remind residents to be vigilant in quarantining if they get the virus or are exposed and wait for a call from the health department.

Further information can be found here.

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