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Coronavirus vaccine expected by December, says Williams


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A vaccine for COVID-19 could be available by the end of the year, according to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams.

“I think we will have a vaccine in December,” Williams told The Missouri Times. “I think its gonna work really well. We’re incredibly appreciative of our friends at Pfizer and Washington University and St. Louis University, they’re doing clinical trials.”

Williams said Pfizer’s is one of six vaccines currently in development. The timeline came from a recent meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), where Williams said an update on the vaccine was given. Williams noted the timeline wasn’t a guarantee but said he felt confident that Missouri could see results by then. 

“My message to Missourians is: If you can just hold on for five or six more months, I think if we can get there we’ll be just fine,” Williams said.

“Local entities know their prevalence and know what’s going on in their communities, so they’re allowed to make stricter ordinances,” Williams said. “The governor has done a phenomenal job of communicating and making sure everybody’s listening to each other. That’s been a positive to me.”  

Williams also touched on what the fall may look like for Missouri sports.

“We’re watching the NFL carefully because they are ahead of us,” he said. “We’ve already seen some things with Major League Baseball that didn’t go the way we hoped they would, and you learn from that. … [Universtiy of Missouri’s] thinking is like ours, which is: It is better to prepare like we’re going to do it, and then if we have to change course, we will.”

Williams said he thinks a college football season is likely, but sporting events might not look the way they have in the past.

“When you say ‘normal,’ meaning completely packed, shoulder to shoulder, I think the University of Missouri and the SEC have thought a lot more about it than me,” he said. 

The way things are run in upcoming seasons will ultimately be up to sports organizations, according to Williams. 

“If you think about it, you’ve got to have a system in which everybody participates; you can’t hold a World Series in which nine teams have pulled out because their cities won’t let them play,” he said. “My hunch with Major League Baseball, they’re going to have to make a decision that’s uniform-looking across their whole spectrum.”

Williams also discussed testing strategies, masks, infection rates, the effectiveness of drugs being tested, and more. 

This is the latest in a series of interviews between The Missouri Times and state leaders on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Watch the full interview below:

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.