By Kristina Rex

WORCESTER (CBS) – There has been a possible major breakthrough in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. The drug maker Pfizer said its vaccine is 90% effective and could be ready for approval in weeks.

“It’s exciting. It’s important for us to make sure this vaccine gets out there,” Gina Plata-Niño of Worcester told WBZ-TV. “Everyone is waiting for it.”

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She’s one of more than 100 volunteers who participated in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial through UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester. More than 43,000 people participated worldwide.

On Monday, Pfizer announced its vaccine had a 90% effectiveness. The company is now undergoing safety testing and will file for emergency use authorization from the FDA in the coming weeks.

Plata-Niño does not know if she received the placebo injection or the actual vaccine, but says she never became infected with COVID-19. Pfizer reported that only 94 patients of the 43,000 became infected with the virus.

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Plata-Niño told WBZ if the vaccine is approved by the FDA and distributed, she will then be able to learn whether or not she was actually administered the trial vaccine.

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An attorney from Worcester and member of the city’s Heath equity forum, Plata-Niño told WBZ she felt inspired to apply for the vaccine trial despite typically being medicine-averse. “I don’t even take painkillers and I hate needles,” she said. “But because of the work I was doing I thought it was important to sacrifice my sanity for a little bit.”

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Local expert Dr. Ashish Jha told WBZ that if the Pfizer vaccine continues on this trajectory, it could be available to every day Americans by March.

Kristina Rex