If all goes well, a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution in San Antonio and other parts of the country within four to five weeks, a local public health official said on Monday.

A limited number of vaccine doses would be available if distribution begins in December, and priority would go to health care workers and first responders, said Anita Kurian, assistant director at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

“The important thing to remember is that once we have those vaccines, these supplies will only increase over time,” Kurian said. “We won’t [initially] have enough doses available for all adults.”

Last week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced its clinical trials have produced an efficacy rate of more than 90 percent, and its application for emergency use is under U.S. Food and Drug Administration review.

President Donald Trump said on Friday that the vaccine would be available next month to those in the highest-priority tiers for receiving the vaccine. He said health care providers are likely to begin administering doses of the vaccine to the broader public in April.

Those timelines are, of course, all contingent on the FDA review as well as that of the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices.

On Monday, drugmaker Moderna said its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective. Collectively, the companies could supply vaccines for 20 million people in the U.S. by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Bexar County continues to see an increase in coronavirus infections, but the rise has been more gradual locally than in other parts of the state and country. Officials on Monday said the coronavirus positive test rate climbed another percentage point, from 8.4 percent last week to 9.4 percent this week.

Reporting 194 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, officials said the seven-day average had decreased to 297 after rising above 300 for the first time since August.

More than 400 COVID-19 patients are in local hospitals as of Monday, marking the first time the patient count had reached 400 in months. COVID-19 patients constitute nearly 11 percent of all hospital patients in the San Antonio area. Of the 407 total COVID-19 patients, 65 are from El Paso, 46 are newly admitted patients, 142 are in intensive care, and 65 are on ventilators.

No new deaths were reported on Monday, leaving the local toll at 1,301.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is the San Antonio Report's audience engagement editor.