Health & Fitness

The approaching months will likely be "very tough," says the US physician, regardless of excellent news concerning the Covid-19 vaccine

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The next few months will still be difficult as virus cases in the U.S. continue to break new daily records, an infectious disease doctor said this week despite promising news from vaccine trials.

That's because a vaccine won't be available in time to stop the spate of cases that are likely to arise as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective at preventing the disease.

"What we hear and what we see is that this is promising news, but it is not the end of all, be all," said Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the system-wide program for specific pathogens at New York City Health + Hospitals.

There is a schedule of when the vaccine will be available and when it can be given, she told CNBC's Street Signs Asia on Tuesday. "There is still some time left until then, which means we have some very difficult months ahead of us."

According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 50.9 million people worldwide are infected with the coronavirus, 10.1 million of them in the United States.

Cases have increased over the past few weeks as the weather turned colder, and medical experts have warned the situation could get worse.

Madad said drug companies have said vaccines may be available to priority groups like healthcare workers by the end of 2020, but the public does not yet have access.

"We won't see the effectiveness of these vaccines in the general population until sometime (in) the second quarter of next year, so we still have a few months," she said.

"This is a process that will follow a fairly quick schedule, but certainly not fast enough with the months ahead and the increasing number of cases we see around the world."

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Katherine Clark