Talk of vaccines to combat COVID-19 told around Rowe’s ‘Priority’ discussion

“There is great hope” coming from COVID-19 pandemic research, as Rotary Club of Farragut heard from Dennis Rowe, director of Government and Industry Relations for Knoxville-based Priority Ambulance, during RCF’s virtual meeting Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Rowe, who has more than 35 years of experience in the EMS field in East Tennessee, said Priority took a stand to be proactive when the pandemic threatened to appear.

“I have been involved in five plans for pandemics, but we’ve never planned for anything like this,” he said.

But to get ahead of the virus, Rowe said he talked with 257 doctors online, from China and other parts of the world, and has been to Italy and Germany to see first-hand their COVID responses and work.

“I actually sat in with the federal folks from the very, very beginning of this,” he added. “We immediately called a meeting — our corporate personnel across the country.”

“We spent millions of dollars up front to achieve that.”

Also regarding COVID-19, Rotarian Megan Belcher, who earlier was part of a trial for the COVID-19 vaccine, said she recently received an update from AMR-NOCCR, which conducted the Pfizer trial tests in which she participated, about the Pfizer vaccine being tested.

“They noted they were having a lot of success with the antibodies,” she said. “It should be effective, and … they have expanded the study to include kids, so ages 12 to 85 can participate now.

Getting the vaccine to the public “is really close,” Belcher added. “They are still being conservative with what they are putting out in the news, but it sounds really good to me.”

As of late October, she was told the submitted results from 15,000 participants.

“They also already produced 100 million doses of the vaccine, so that’s ready to roll,” she said. “They’re getting the chain mapped out of how it’s going to be distributed and delivered, hopefully, to all of us.

“I was super excited. It just sounds like we’re getting really close.”