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Expert says second generation of COVID-19 vaccines could approach 100% efficiency

Dr. Sam Sun with the Indemic Foundation says vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer, even though they're made by two different companies, will be very similar.

With the news this week that Moderna and Pfizer have each developed COVID-19 vaccines with nearly 95 percent effectiveness, WTOL 11 spoke to a national expert to help us understand what this means moving forward.

Dr. Sam Sun with the Indemic Foundation says both vaccines, even if they're made by two different companies, will be very similar.

Despite the efficiency of both vaccines, Dr. Sun expects Pfizer and Moderna to develop second-generation vaccines that will get that number even closer to 100 percent.

The efficiency rate of the new vaccines is particularly high, especially when compared to the standard flu shot, which Dr. Sun says is about 40 to 60 percent effective in any given year.

But Dr. Sun believes it'll take some time before the coronavirus vaccine is as available as a flu shot.

"It's generally thought that health care workers, frontline workers, and the elderly will be some of the first to be vaccinated. In terms of consumer groups or the general population being able to go to the doctor's office for a certain vaccine shot, we might be a couple of months from that," said Dr. Sun.

The vaccines will require two different shots over several weeks.

Dr. Sun says that's because it will take that much time for our immune systems to process the vaccines.

"The way our immune system works, sometimes you need something foreign for your body to mount a complete immune response," said Dr. Sun.

Ultimately it doesn't matter how effective the coronavirus vaccine is if people don't take it, however.

Dr. Sun says if large groups of people don't take the vaccine, then it would be like not having a vaccine in the first place.

The vaccines are expected to be available to certain members of the population sometime in December.