We are making steady progress towards finding an effective and safe vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the disease. Several are being tested in large groups, which is exciting and hopeful.
But there are a few factors to consider and keep in mind after approval, because it will still be a while before we start seeing life start return to more normalcy.
First off, manufacturing millions and millions of doses is a daunting task. How many people over 50 remember how long we have waited for the new Shingrix, the shingles prevention vaccine? Some are still waiting. The government is trying to avoid this scenario by giving contracts and money to help rev up production pre-approval, with the hopes there will be plenty of vaccine.
Secondly, many people are hesitant to get vaccinated. These are not necessarily people who are anti-vaccine, but they may be reluctant for many reasons, including concerns about side effects and safety. This is something that needs addressed. I see this hesitancy every year with the flu vaccine. If only 50% of people get the vaccine, we may not reach herd immunity any time soon, which means that the world may be living with COVID-19 for a while.
Vaccines are safe and effective overall, even if they have mild short term side effects, This is a new study that looks at vaccines over the past 20 years and finds them very safe and effective. I find this data very reassuring.
And there are other concerns about rushing a vaccine without enough proof of its effectiveness and safety, especially if done for political reasons. If an ineffective or unsafe vaccine is approved, then no one wins. People will then choose not to get immunized and trust of the medical community will be lost.
Remember that the pandemic is like a wildfire- I have written about that before. It needs fuel to burn and un-immunized citizens would be that fuel. Immunizing enough people with an effective and safe vaccine will bring us to herd immunity and remove the opportunity for the virus to continue spreading.
While we wait, we can wash our hands, cover our noses completely with our masks, and keep a safe 6 foot distance, preferably outside, for short periods.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading..