School of Pharmacy’s Ken McCall discusses COVID-19 vaccines with the local media

Ken McCall
School of Pharmacy's Kenneth McCall

With two promising vaccines for COVID-19 on the horizon, local news outlets called on Kenneth McCall, BSPharm, Pharm.D., professor and residency director at the School of Pharmacy, to discuss the latest developments.

Biotechnology company Moderna recently released preliminary data showing its vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing coronavirus infections. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, had previously announced its vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.

McCall told NEWS CENTER Maine that two challenges to distributing the vaccines are that both require recipients to take two doses and both must be kept at very cold temperatures.

"Production of those vaccines is on the scale of millions of doses and the last 10 miles of the supply chain is the most logistically challenging,” he said.

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept between -70 and -80 degrees Celsius. The Moderna vaccine must be kept at -20 degrees Celsius, making it more easily transportable.

The vaccine will first go to health care workers, first responders and other people on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.

“You know, I caution that these are not available now,” McCall told WGME. “For the general public, they’re still not going to be available probably for several more months, according to the CDC.”

As state health officials begin to figure out how they will distribute a vaccine, the biggest concern they have is assuring people that it will be safe.

“Your doctor and your pharmacist will know a lot more very soon,” McCall stated. “In the next few weeks and months, they will be able to answer questions that their patients have.”