Opinion

COVID-19 vaccine not ready until next year: will we make it?

It’s too far gone to flatten the curve on our own, so we, as a nation, must come together and hang on for dear life until a vaccine comes. 

It’s too far gone to flatten the curve on our own, so we, as a nation, must come together and hang on for dear life until a vaccine comes. 

Image By: Jeff Miller

From the constant delay of flattening the coronavirus curve, to President Trump suggesting that Americans inject themselves with disinfectant to kill the virus, to the limited reopenings of towns and schools, it’s safe to say that COVID-19 has been unpredictable and ridiculously difficult to control. 

Along with the many Americans not following procedural measures to protect themselves and others from the virus, the future of our country seems bleak. The only way America can overcome this pandemic is through the distribution of a working vaccine. We’ve been given several different time periods promising that the vaccine will be ready, but recent reports say it will take longer than expected. 

Amidst the chaos, America has been unable to control the spread and lessen the death toll. The case numbers declined in April and May, but are rising at extreme rates that were experienced by New York in late March. Compared to the other countries that were hit hard by the virus, America is not doing well to combat the growing case numbers. Put simply, America will continue its toxic cycle of breaking rules and increasing case numbers. Americans will continue to participate in their selfish, reckless ways unless those in power implement strict punishments for those who do not comply with the guidelines.

According to the scientists and vaccine developers, Trump’s predictions about an early October vaccine are inaccurate and most people will not receive a reliable one until far into next year. Trump’s insistent claims about a vaccine being available before the Nov. 3 election date are concerning to the public in fear of a vaccine being hastily distributed against the recommendations of credible scientists. 

These inaccurate claims directly conflict with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert R. Redfield's timeline that predicts a vaccine will be ready in February at the very earliest, but that it is more likely that most people will receive the vaccine by July or August. Plus, during the first month of the vaccine’s availability, supplies will be sufficiently limited, Operation Warp Speed, a multiagency effort to make a COVID-19 vaccine available to Americans, said. 

Although we desperately need this vaccine to be distributed as quickly as possible, the timelines offered by companies running clinical vaccine trials are not exact and can provide false hope. 

According to Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) vaccine advisory panel, these clinical trial companies shouldn’t be so certain that their timelines are precise. Offit claims it is “irresponsible” of companies such as Pfizer to advertise such a definitive answer to the question of when a vaccine will be ready. 

Moderna, another one of the three medical companies far into the vaccine trials, initially predicted results by November. On Sept. 17, Moderna published a trial blueprint revealing an even longer timeline — in which the results might not provide enough information to determine if the vaccine works — that indicated that the first analysis of the trial will be conducted in December.

In short, timelines and results of tests change every day and it is unlikely that a successful vaccine will be distributed as soon as everyone has been hoping. In the meantime, America needs to focus on countering the increase of cases as well as the death toll. 

With over 200,000 deaths resulting from the pandemic among many other economic and social impacts, COVID-19 has proven its severity. However, the majority of conservative Republican Americans seem to disregard the evident facts and dangers pertaining to the pandemic, claiming that those who wear masks and practice physical distancing constantly “live in fear” and are allowing the government to control them. This minimal partisan divide may be attributed to Trump’s dismissal of the disease and claims that it would go away on its own. 

Some people completely dismiss the guidelines from the CDC, gathering in “clusters” to continue their normal routines of partying with people outside of their households. In Dane County, 312 new cases were detected from July 24-30 with 101 (41%) of them being attributed to deliberately disobeying physical distance from people who live outside one’s home. It’s blatant ignorance like this that will prolong America’s struggles with coronavirus.

Massive parties have continued amidst the lockdown rules, and law enforcement holds the difficult task of trying to control what people do in their own homes. In an attempt to prevent these large, unregulated gatherings from happening, Los Angeles officials stated that the Department of Water and Power were to shut off utilities in homes that hosted such dangerous gatherings. It’s sad that it came to this point, needing the city’s intervention to deter such selfish acts from happening during a global pandemic. 

Most get lucky and escape a positive test result after a party like that, but all it takes is for one infected person to attend for the virus to spread rapidly. Most young teens hold a kind of invincibility complex that makes them believe they won’t get the virus, and if they do, they’re young and will most likely survive it anyway. 

It can be so challenging to fit in during this pandemic because those who actively practice mask wearing and physical distancing each day have a certain stigma around them, labeling them as irrational and paranoid. Plus, kids who do the correct cautionary practices feel obligated not to “snitch” on their peers who break these COVID-19 rules, in fear of being made fun of if they found out it was them who reported these gatherings. 

There’s a general misconception agreement among teenagers that their youth and relatively good health protects them from contracting the virus or suffering major health complications if infected. Obviously, this is false. While the likelihood may be lower, anyone can contract the virus. With this ignorant and selfish view, it is merely impossible to control the spread of the disease. If people keep gathering and taking such huge risks during this pandemic without thinking of all the immunocompromised people they could be affecting, there’s no chance America will last until July or August when the vaccine likely comes out. 

The only way to make people realize the seriousness of the pandemic is to enforce strict punishments for those in violation of mask and physical distancing protocols. Without the threat of suffering grave consequences, people will continue to go about their selfish ways of partying and living life as normal. 

If we don’t reconstruct the perspective of Americans quickly, the infection rates will constantly increase, endangering millions of people who do their best to protect themselves from the virus. It’s too far gone to flatten the curve on our own, so we, as a nation, must come together and hang on for dear life until a vaccine comes. 

Maggie is a Freshman studying Journalism. When do you think we will get an effective COVID-19 vaccine? Do you think we can live with COVID-19 till then? Send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com 

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