There already reportedly have been great advancements made in this endeavor, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that a vaccine that’s at least 50% effective could be given the green light by early 2021.
That, however, only takes care of the first problem. There’s another important question as well: will enough people actually get the coronavirus vaccine for it to be effective?
According to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll, conducted between July 28 and 30, only 42% of Americans are planning to get vaccinated for COVID-19. This figure is down from May, when 55% said they would get vaccinated.
Moreover, 34% said they are “very concerned” about the safety of a “fast-tracked” coronavirus vaccine, and another 35% said they are somewhat concerned. In a recent CBS News poll, about half of Americans said they will “wait and see” what happens to others before getting vaccinated themselves.
“Why should we expect Americans to agree to a vaccine before one is even available?” Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida, recently wrote in The New York Times.
“I’m a vaccine researcher, and even I would place myself in the ‘not sure’ bucket. What we have right now is a collection of animal data, immune response data and safety data based on early trials and from similar vaccines for other diseases. The evidence that would convince me to get a COVID-19 vaccine, or to recommend that my loved ones get vaccinated, does not yet exist.”
If a coronavirus vaccine is being counted on to stop the global pandemic in its tracks, there surely will need to be greater participation among the public than what the polls are showing.
Medical experts have estimated that anywhere between 60% and 80% of the population would need to be vaccinated—depending also on the efficacy of the vaccine itself.
“Obviously, we would like to see it much, much higher,” he said during a conference call alongside National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.
“But 60% is the standard that you do for the cutoff. That’s not unusual. I would like to see the highest percentage that we could possibly get.”
The United States has the most cases by far, with nearly 4.9 million confirmed infections and more than 158,000 deaths.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.