Will the COVID-19 Vaccines Soon Crush the Pandemic?
As calamitous as the COVID-19 pandemic is, humanity would have been in a much worse situation had it occurred even ten years earlier. The past decade of remarkable biotechnological progress enabled public health officials and researchers to identify the COVID-19 virus, sequence its genome, ramp up diagnostic testing, and then create and begin to deploy numerous vaccines in less than a year.
This week, the United Kingdom approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. British citizens will begin inoculations next week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet on December 10 to consider an emergency use authorization for that vaccine, and will discuss authorizing the Moderna vaccine a week later. If all goes well, the campaign to vaccinate Americans will begin shortly thereafter. The two companies could supply enough doses to cover around 20 million Americans before the end of the year.
However, even if it was logistically possible to distribute such great quantities of doses, vaccine makers (including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, in addition to Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) do not yet have the capacity to inoculate everyone immediately. So earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended prioritizing vaccination for the 21 million health care workers and the 3 million elderly residents in long-term care facilities. Vaccinations will then be offered to segments of
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