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Courtesy of Scientific American

Will COVID Vaccines Bring an End to the Pandemic?

Coronavirus: When will it end?

Coronavirus vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been a year since quarantine on March 13, 2020, and where are we?

In the course of, a year we have reached over 115 million cases worldwide, we have developed three functional vaccines (as a country), and endured endless and tiresome quarantines. But the better question: When will this pandemic end? 

According to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, “there is light at the end of the tunnel, particularly that we have multiple, highly efficacious vaccines.” He states that it is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible to get closer to the end of this pandemic. “Don’t wait to get into which one is better than the other; just get vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can. … Quite frankly, they’re safe vaccines.”

The truth, however, is that the coronavirus might never end. When asked when the pandemic would be over, Ms. Heather Starley, the CTE/Science Teacher and the HOSA Advisor at Alta,  answered, “I think the SARSCoV2 virus will become like the flu or cold virus – always there, but not as big of a threat if we can get around 80% of the population vaccinated.  I think each year, we will need to get an annual ‘COVID’ shot as we do now with the flu.”

In 1918 the flu pandemic began, and much like the coronavirus, a vaccine was developed. To this day, due to new strands and evolutions of the influenza virus, we get vaccinated each year for this virus. Many experts believe that COVID will never entirely go away, and because of this, we will likely take annual COVID shots, much like flu shots. 

“Now is not the time to pull back on public health measures. It is entirely understandable — I feel it myself: You want to get back to some form of normality; that will come relatively soon. … But the better we do with suppressing the virus, the quicker we’ll get back to normal,” says Starley. “What we don’t want to do is to prematurely jump the gun and throw aside all public health measures. … I think we will definitely get back to a level of normalcy, but I don’t think it will ever be the same ‘normal’ we are used to.  I am hopeful that next fall, school will be able to return to pretty much normal, but I think at least for the first semester, we will still be recommended to wear masks. ”

With a near-end in sight, many health officials and health experts are advising that people stay safe. By staying safe and not spreading COVID, we allow ourselves to get closer to an end. With the vaccines on their way, we may finally get enough people vaccinated to feel a sense of normalcy again.

“We will never overcome the major issues with COVID until we can achieve what is referred to as ‘herd immunity’ and that won’t happen until around 80% of the population is vaccinated. Trust the science!” exclaims Starley. “The vaccine is safe. The technology has been in the works for years and it is just another amazing advancement we can enjoy thanks to modern technology!”

It may be very exhausting to wear masks, social distance, hand-wash after touching anything and living in an all-virtual world now, but it will be even more exhausting to not do these things and get stuck with another year of the pandemic. We need to be safe and vaccinate. At this point it is not about the right to not wear a mask, it is about protecting each other and seeing the end of this pandemic.

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