The clock isn’t going to hit midnight on 2021 and suddenly change the world. The coronavirus is still going to be here. We won’t get to suddenly burst into hugs of excitement. Social distancing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A vaccine isn’t here yet, and cases continue to rise in many parts of the world. Americans shouldn’t trash those masks or get ready for big concerts yet. We should prepare to follow social distancing into 2022.
Not One And Done
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained this vaccine isn’t going to be like polio and measles vaccine. He states that those vaccines are one and done. The coronavirus vaccines will need to be approved then distributed to the general public. This won’t happen overnight. There will still be a process that takes time. There is also not a 100% effectiveness rate. Fauci says he anticipates a 70% effectiveness rate of the vaccine.
The best way to achieve herd immunity so that we can truly move forward as a country is through a vaccine. Herd immunity only happens when a virus stops spreading because people are already protected against it. Enough people need to have immunity that it can no longer spread. If not, thousands more people could die just from getting the virus. Herd immunity isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist, says we are nowhere near 70 or 80 percent of Americans that have been infected and are immune to this virus. She cited a study found that less than 10 percent of Americans have COVID-19 antibodies. Experts say it might be the end of 2021 before it happens. If the strain of the virus continues to morph, this immunity could be thrown off even more.
Another Spike Looms
As Americans head into the holidays, the experts worry about loved ones gathering around the dinner table. Even the smaller gatherings drive transmission as loved ones move indoors to share food and fellowship. Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC says he understands people are suffering from COVID-19 fatigue, but wearing masks and social distancing can save lives.
Butler said he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine will step in to help the spread of the virus. Until then, the small changes in our lifestyle could stick around like they do in other cultures. In the Eastern part of the world, it’s routine to wear masks in the colder months. This helps with the spread of everyday diseases. It could simply be America’s new normal.
There are a lot of unknowns and challenges ahead when it comes to vaccines.
Vaccines aren’t the answer to everyone’s issues. A vaccine may work in only half of the people. Millions of people may decide they don’t even want to get the vaccine. This means socially distancing and wearing masks are still crucial to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The truth is that most experts cannot give anyone an exact time that everyone can stop standing six feet apart. There are so many factors that go into this decision. Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases explained that even if the vaccine is 70 percent effective, it isn’t enough. This means that for every ten people vaccinated, three will remain susceptible to the virus. No one will know which people are those random three. Another issue with a vaccine is that not everyone can get the vaccine in a day. It will take months to administer it to 330 million Americans. Dr. Westyn Branch-Elliman, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School explained that the world doesn’t yet know how long the vaccine will last. He also explained that we may have a vaccine, but not have a large enough amount of it to have an impact.
When a pandemic finally “ends,” it isn’t because the virus is eliminated. The disease usually becomes a part of the population. It’s in the background flaring up at random times. The 2003 SARS outbreak didn’t follow the usual behavior of other diseases. It wasn’t easy to catch and countries were able to contain it quickly. This was the key to “ending” SARS. Smallpox was one virus that was actually eliminated through a widespread vaccine. Polio is close to being wiped away as well. Time can only tell what COVID-19 will do as a virus.
It’s best to take the pandemic as it comes. The world has seen the virus as it dips and dives. There are treatments on the horizon that seem promising to some experts. These treatments might be the kind that you can take and not get infected, or that treat the symptoms. The good news is that pandemics don’t last forever. The hope is that once the air clears, people are able to get out and enjoy time in large gatherings close to one another. Wearing masks and social distancing will be part of our everyday lives until the day we’re able to give hugs to strangers once again.