Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. announced perhaps the most encouraging news since the coronavirus pandemic started: a potential vaccine trial has been 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
"Today is a great day for science and humanity," said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chair and CEO, in a statement. "We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most."
There are 90 trials being conducted nationally, including one at Austin Regional Clinic, according to the Statesman, which reports that 200 adults are taking part in the study.
According to Pfizer, the latest phase of trials started in late July and included a diverse mix of participants. Monday's news should help advance ARC's trial to reportedly include teenagers in ongoing tests.
Should the Pfizer vaccine trials continue to deliver successful results, the company projects it can produce up to 50 million doses globally by the end of the year and 1.3 billion vaccine doses in 2021. Pfizer would offer the vaccine for free "to all American citizens," once available Bourla told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. The stock market has already reacted overwhelmingly positive to the announcement.
Local health officials said Monday that they are working with state officials and a local coalition to plan for widespread distribution of a vaccine, once one is available.
Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden said the coalition is working to identify priority populations locally, which would receive earliest access to any vaccine.
But other challenges remain, including the need for ultra-cold storage and a second dose, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said, as well as the peer review process, which is standard in drug development.
"There are still a lot of unknowns as far as logistically how things will come," APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette said.
President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating Pfizer for the potential breakthrough but set realistic expectations that "the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away" even if a vaccine is approved later this month.
Statement by President-elect Biden on Pfizer's vaccine progress: https://t.co/eOiLZnqO8N— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Biden-Harris Presidential Transition) 1604934322.0
Anyone interested in volunteering can request to participate in the trial on ARC's website.
Emma Freer contributed to this story.
- Flu season: Austin health officials are focused on vaccines - austonia ›
- Everything we know about COVID-19 in Austin right now - austonia ›
- Austin company seeks volunteers for COVID vaccine trial - austonia ›
- Austinites test incoming Moderna vaccine with 95% efficacy - austonia ›
- Texas picked for new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine - austonia ›
- UT professor played role in Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines - austonia ›
- Texas experts weigh in on Biden's COVID response - austonia ›
- COVID-19 scams surface as vaccine prepares for FDA approval - austonia ›
- Abbott confirms incoming COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year - austonia ›
- Austin area will receive 13,650 doses of Pfizer COVID vaccine - austonia ›
- Freestanding ERs receive COVID vaccine after hospital ERs - austonia ›
- Care facilities, firefighters and police receive vaccines - austonia ›
- Vaccines to group 1B begins simultaneously with 1A - austonia ›
- Austin ISD receives COVID-19 vaccine for eligible staff - austonia ›
- Texas received fewer COVID vaccines than other states per capita - austonia ›
- Austin's Benchmark Research plans vaccine trial for kids - austonia ›
Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”
Next time you’re sitting at a red light in Austin, you may look over and see a car without a person at the driver’s wheel.
Autonomous vehicle tech company Argo AI has brought driverless operations to Austin and Miami, starting out with only company employees using the service. Later on, tests with Lyft and Walmart will carry out ride-sharing and grocery delivery services, with the help of a human safety operator. The company has already made moves on this front in Miami Beach where some Lyft passengers have used its autonomous vehicles with a human operator.
While its platform is designed for integration with multiple vehicle types, the test fleet uses the Ford Escape Hybrid and VW's all-electric ID.Buzz.
The Pittsburgh-based company says this progress on its autonomy platform has been more than five years in the making and boasted about reaching this milestone before others.
"Argo is first to go driverless in two major American cities, safely operating amongst heavy traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists in the busiest of neighborhoods," said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Argo AI.
Expect to see the autonomous cars on the road during daytime business hours as the tech aims to learn from a diversity of road infrastructure and driving behaviors.
The company, which is testing in eight cities in the U.S. and Europe, has brought its tech to Austin as the company looks to expand in densely-populated cities. In particular, Argo is looking at ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies for integrating its autonomous vehicles into their digital services.
Argo anticipates its service availability to someday cover more than 15 million people in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C.
- Elon Musk "The Boring Company" tunnel to be built in Austin ... ›
- Austin voters ask: How will Project Connect affect transit ridership ... ›
- Robots become part of everyday Austin life - austonia ›
- Tesla files plans to build batteries at Austin Gigafactory - austonia ›
- Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk is moving to Austin, Texas ... ›
- What would Austin's roads look like if they were built for growth ... ›
- The robots are driving: Argo AI gears up to bring driverless ... ›
- Take a ride in Ford's new electric vehicles in downtown Austin with ... ›
- Austin-based company displays upcoming 'flying car' - austonia ›