"Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2" by Felipeesquivel20 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Why a vaccine may not be enough to end the pandemic

Jun 9, 2020

By Umair Irfan

Without a vaccine or treatment, the world has been forced to adopt severe tactics to slow the spread of Covid-19: social distancing, shutdowns, closures, and cancellations. As states in the US begin to reopen, it’s clear there is still much hardship to come — for those laid off, for businesses forced to implement costly new health measures, for those still at risk of infection.

But the global race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine to shield people from the infection is now well underway, and gaining ground by the week. There are now more than 90 vaccines under development from governments, nonprofits, and private companies. Several are in stages of human clinical trials. Some of the developers, including a research group in China and the US biotech firm Moderna, have already posted preliminary but promising results from their vaccine trials.

“This is an extraordinary time we’re living in right now,” said Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher and a professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “The pandemic is motivating a lot of [vaccine] efforts around the world.”

Yet as tempting as it is to predict how the vaccine will fit into the great epic of Covid-19, it’s impossible to know exactly how it will play out.

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