The COVID-19 pandemic is by far the worst public health crisis of our time. At the time of publishing, over 52 million infections have been reported with over 1.29 million deaths globally. The United States, in particular, has been hit hard. Just the other day, the US crossed the 10 million mark in infections with deaths now heading towards 250,000.
The economic devastation of the pandemic has also been felt across the US. Many experts agree that jump-starting the economy won’t be possible without getting the virus under control. The US government had of course invested billions of dollars on a wide range of mitigation plans, including the development of a vaccine.
A few months down the line, we have now received some really positive news on the vaccine. This week, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it had developed an effective COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is said to be nearly 90% effective and is a product of months-long studies and extensive support from the government.
News of a vaccine sent the US financial markets soaring this week and there’s real hope that maybe we may have taken a giant step in dealing with the virus once and for all. But despite this, there are still a few things we need to highlight. First, while it’s great news that Pfizer has developed a vaccine, don’t expect it in your drug store yet.
According to the company, these latest results came from the first round of clinical trials involving 43,538 people. More clinical trials are still needed to fully gauge the effectiveness of the drug. Besides, there are still a lot of steps left before the vaccine becomes publicly available.
Although the outgoing Trump administration did remove some of the red tape associated with drug approval in the US, there are still a lot of crucial steps left for the Pfizer vaccine to launch on a mass scale.
It’s estimated that to combat the virus, millions of vaccine doses will be needed. Distributing such a huge number is a logistical nightmare. There were some reports that the US military is on standby to help deal with the logistical challenges of getting this vaccine to millions of Americans. But still, it’s a huge undertaking even for the men and women in uniform.
Pfizer isn’t the only drug company in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine. There are some rival companies working on the same and we may see several different vaccines with different degrees of effectiveness. But one challenge that we need to overcome is this. We don’t know if vaccinated people are safe or asymptomatic carriers.
If indeed it emerges that you can still spread the virus when you’re vaccinated, then it will become very hard to contain the spread unless everyone is vaccinated. And with nearly half of all Americans saying they don’t trust a vaccine, it could be a huge mountain to climb for the future Biden administration.