Top Houston doctor warns thousands could die waiting for COVID-19 vaccines

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A glimmer of hope is near with a possible COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon.

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said we should be in a much better place by summer 2021.

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But first, he said we must get through winter.

Hotez estimates at the current rate, another 150,000 American lives will be lost to COVID-19 before February, bringing the national death total from COVID-19 to 400,000.

"We now have the ability to prevent the loss of every one of those lives. There's nobody who has to lose their life between now and February," said Hotez.

Of the new death estimate, he says 17,000 Texans could die just as vaccines begin rolling out.

"Imagine the heart break of losing a loved one now when you know all you had to do was get them to hang on a couple more months."

He says ending the pandemic through vaccination will require a majority of Americans taking part.
"Our modeling estimates say we'll need about 70% of the U.S. population vaccinated. So, it's a pretty high bar," Hotez said.

He also urged us to trust in the science. Hotez said these vaccines have already been tested on tens of thousands of our neighbors.

"There's a lot of rigor. There's a lot of scientific integrity. The Warp Speed part is around the manufacturing, so we are manufacturing now, we're not waiting."

His message to Americans: wear the mask, wash your hands and stay distant for just a little bit longer.

"We've got good, safe and effective vaccines coming down the pike. Let's keep everyone alive so they can get vaccinated. Once they get vaccinated, they'll live a normal life span," Hotez said.

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