West Michigan doctor talks potential COVID-19 vaccine safety

Posted at 4:39 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 18:31:36-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — As we get closer to an approved COVID-19 vaccine, some are still wary of actually getting one.

A third company, AstraZeneca in conjunction with Oxford University, has thrown their hat into the ring for a vaccine.

The drug manufacturer said Monday that their vaccines have proven to be about 70% effective in the their clinical trials.

FOX 17 spoke with the Ron Grifka MD, Chief Medical Officer of Metro Health – University of Michigan about the safety of any potential vaccine.

He said, “The science has been very good, the science has been solid.”

Even though a vaccine likely wouldn’t be available to those outside frontline workers and high-risk groups until Spring, 2021 some are questioning if they should get it at all.

Dr. Grifka said, “I’s not a live vaccine. In fact, it’s a kind of different vaccine in that it allows your body to produce one of the proteins that doesn’t cause illness, but will cause your body to develop an immune response, so that if it is exposed to COVID-19, then it does destroy it.”

Dr. Grifka added that fears that the vaccine contains a microchip or that it has the ability to alter your DNA, are untrue or just physically impossible.

“There’s no chip, there’s no metal device, there’s no silicon wafer. It’s 0.03 milliliters of liquid that’s injected, and it’s quite safe in that perspective,” he said, “Does it alter DNA? Absolutely not. This is not the type of vaccine that gets even into the part of the cell that affects your DNA.”

Here’s how vaccine development and trials usually work.

“The general process is, a company will try to generate a vaccine, they will go through phase 1 phase 2, phase 3 trials, they will review the data and then if things look good, then they’ll start producing the vaccine,” Dr. Grifka said.

The biggest difference In developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is the effort to close the gap between evaluating results and starting production, thanks to Operation Warp Speed.

Dr. Grifka said, “What they decided to do, which was a stroke of genius, is the two or three companies that had a very good looking vaccines, they said ‘start producing them now.’ We will be analyzing the data, but while we are analyzing the data, you are making the vaccines ,so if we decide that the vaccine is safe, you already have several million to hundreds of millions of doses.”

However, until a vaccine is readily available for everyone, Dr. Grifka is urging people to follow the big things we’ve been asked to do for months now.

He said, “Social distancing, masking, hand washing and now it’s more important, because it looks like with the vaccine close, there is light at the end of the tunnel, we can get out of this.”