BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When Pfizer announced a potentially life-saving breakthrough in the coronavirus vaccine, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine were both stunned and elated.

“When we saw the news, when everybody else saw it yesterday morning, only six months into this effort, we were really thrilled,” Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, the Director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said.

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Dr. Neuzil said the Baltimore institution was the first in the United States to administer vaccines in the Pfizer trial back in May.


Now, with research results that show the vaccine is more than 90% effective, there is hope it could cripple the spread of COVID-19.

“We know it’s early data, we know it’s more to come, but it is a terrific starting place,” Dr. Neuzil said.

Cynthia Sikorski, who lives in Howard County, took one of the first experimental doses. She said she’s been COVID-free.

“(I’m) very, very happy to hear that they are so close. It’s just a huge breakthrough for everyone,” Sikorski said.

Despite Pfizer’s news about the vaccine being more than 90% effective, there are some reservations about taking it.

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“I’d like to see more proof that it works before I would actually give it and say let’s try it out,” one Baltimore resident told WJZ.

Others in the region said they would take a vaccine when it becomes available.

“I trust the doctors. Most of the time, like you say, doctors know best,” one man told WJZ.

Researchers said of the approximately 40,000 people who were administered the vaccine, only 94 developed COVID-19. Those figures could change as additional data comes in.

“I can say when the vaccine is available, I can feel comfortable taking the vaccine because of this process,” Dr. Neuzil said.

To participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, click here to learn more.

Pending FDA approval, the vaccine could be available for some people before the end of the year.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Ava-joye Burnett