Why a Vaccine Won’t Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

Why a Vaccine Won’t Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

A vaccine for the coronavirus will not be the miracle we’re hoping for — at least not right away. Experts say that even if a safe and effective vaccine is developed by the end of this year, we’ve got a long way to go to eradicate the pandemic.

According to CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that while he is “cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this calendar year,” he warned that “it’s not going to be turning a switch off and turning the switch on. It’s going to be gradual.”

The vaccine will have to undergo the complex process of obtaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, even if the FDA allows an emergency use authorization. Then, the drug will need to be distributed to the majority of 300 million Americans in order to achieve any hope of herd immunity.

Experts say that we’re currently not equipped with enough hardware such as syringes, needles and vials to distribute the vaccine to millions of Americans. According to The Hill, a comprehensive report outlining the “efficient manufacturing, financing, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said that given the recommendation of two doses per person, we’ll need 462 million doses to achieve herd immunity and 660 million doses for the entire U.S. population. The report, submitted by the Center for American Progress, said that the government has not released a comprehensive vaccine plan.

It takes a year to formulate and distribute the influenza vaccine each year, even though it’s a familiar drug with dedicated dispensaries such as pharmacies, doctors’ offices — even grocery stores, according to CNN. Dealing with the new technology, distribution and payment of the COVID-19 vaccine will be challenging, say experts.

According to The New York Times, the annual flu vaccine is, on the average, 50% effective in preventing the main influenza strains. Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease at the University of Minnesota, said that the COVID-19 vaccine may also have limited effectiveness, and that we will still have to practice social distancing, washing our hands frequently and wearing masks in public.

“People can’t be lulled into a false sense of security by knowing the vaccine is coming,” Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told CNN, referring to the monumental task of mass vaccination. “I don’t think it will be seamless.”

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