A COVID-19 Vaccine and What This Means for the Future

The FDA recently authorized the use of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Here are some of my thoughts on what this means for the pandemic and the future.

The Associated Press reports that the FDA has authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States. (Note: I linked an archived version of the article because the current article at the URL is almost entirely different from when I first wrote this.) This is extremely welcome news as we have longed for an end to this pandemic. It’s not over yet, though.

For starters, unless you were in a clinical trial, you probably haven’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine yet. It will take a massive effort to distribute this vaccine to to millions of people, which is why higher-risk groups (like healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients) will have priority.

So for the next several weeks or months, many people will remain susceptible, which means the things we’ve been doing (like staying at home and wearing a mask) will have to continue. The article also notes: “The vaccine protects against COVID-19 illness, but no one yet knows if it can stop the silent, symptomless spread that accounts for roughly half of all cases. The ongoing study will attempt to answer that but for now, the vaccinated still will need to wear a mask and keep their distance.”

As more and more people receive the vaccine, and the daily case numbers go down, I expect a gradual reopening of businesses and activities, with large gatherings and international travel among the last to be allowed again. How long this takes will depend on how many people receive the vaccine, how effective it is over longer periods, and what we do in the meantime.

In addition to the death and suffering this pandemic has inflicted on people who have gotten the disease, it has upended our society and highlighted longstanding problems that have yet to be solved. (As someone who works in technology, I was particularly struck by stories of students and their families struggling with distance learning. Many people still lack access to a decent Internet connection at home, which will continue to be important after this is all behind us.) As we head into the final stage of this pandemic I hope we can keep this in mind for the future.

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Philip Chung
Philip Chung
Software Developer