5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Nightcast: U of M infectious disease expert talks COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a vaccine for COVID-19 is "many months away."

"I cannot tell you exactly when a vaccine will be approved and considered safe," said Osterholm. "No one knows when that will happen, but hopefully sooner rather than later and likely to happen sometime in 2021."

Osterholm said there are many questions that need to be answered about the vaccine when it does arrive and sorting out how it will be distributed is one of those questions.

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"What if China, or Europe develops a vaccine and produces it first?", asked Osterholm. "If the U.S. is the first to have a safe vaccine approved, then do we share it with the rest of the world, or make sure every citizen who needs it gets it first in this country?"

Osterholm said the only way the nation comes out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic is through a vaccine or when 60% of the population has been infected and survived to develop immunity.

"It’s that herd immunity I have been referring to and of course the vaccine," said Osterholm. "It’s just the nature of any virus that is new, because the only way to control it and successfully deal with it is through vaccination and/or the herd immunity."