Local experts contrast fast-tracked vaccine hopes with call for patience


SAN DIEGO — While President Trump and the federal government promised a fast-tracked, free COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Scripps Health in San Diego emphasized their methodical approach,

The Scripps team is assembling a consortium of experts to analyze and choose the best vaccine out of hundreds being developed around the world.   

“We will look at all of them,” said Chris Van Gorder, the president and CEO of Scripps Health, the man ultimately tasked with making the final choice.

He says at this point it’s impossible to offer a timetable because no vaccine is FDA approved. 

During a town hall Tuesday, the president hinted a vaccine could be coming before the election. But most experts agree a widely available vaccine won’t be ready before the end of the year or early 2021. That view includes the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which outlined a plan to Congress Wednesday offering free vaccines distribution. 

“I just read this morning that there may be one available in November,” Van Gorder told FOX 5. “It would be small-scale, it would not be something that would be able to be distributed widely anyway.”

And, he points out, even if a vaccine is available around January or February – it will still be quite a while before everyone is fully vaccinated. 

“It will probably take a good six months to a year to vaccinate just our country, much less the world,” he said. “So it is going to be a little bit of a time. There’s not going to be a vaccine out and everything goes back to normal in a matter of weeks. It’ll be months before it gets back to what we would all like to see as normal.” 

And even with that, there’s still the matter of convincing the general population to get vaccinated in the first place. 

“Perception is really important and that’s why we want to base our decision on science, not politics,” Van Gorder said. “I’m gonna probably be first in line. I do trust our doctors and I trust science, and I know they’re going to go through great due diligence before they would recommend patients take it. And I’m just one of their patients.” 

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