February 25, 2021

What now?

Now that COVID-19 cases are dropping and vaccines have increased, what comes next? The answer at the moment is not clear. The vaccines are proving to be more effective than they were expected to be which is excellent news. Data now indicates that they can decrease transmissions. Another effective vaccine, the single dose Johnson & Johnson version, will be reviewed by the FDA tomorrow and hopefully approved soon. Almost 14% of the US population has been immunized and the pace of vaccinations is increasing. Other vaccines are being approved and used in other countries as well.

And yet concerning new variants are being identified. The fear from experts is that if infections increase again, more variants may develop that will be resistant to the vaccines we have. More concerning is the large number of people who are vaccine hesitant or outright anti-vaccine who may refuse immunization and remain vulnerable.

What are we to do? The answer is not clear and may change as we get more data. The argument that the vaccine may not prevent transmission, so that we need to stay vigilant with masking and socially distancing, may actually increase vaccine hesitancy because, “why bother?” is valid. Others worry about the new variants causing a 4th surge and the vaccines may stop working. Plus, many will be waiting for their vaccine for a few more months, leaving more time for variants to emerge. The New York Times has a very good article about protecting ourselves from a 4th surge of the virus by continuing social distancing and masking until more are vaccinated.

But on the other hand, even though we don’t know when we will relax some of our preventive efforts, joy and hope are being felt wherever the vaccine is being given, instead of the grief and loss of the past year. We need more of that now.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, for the time being.

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.