August 8, 2020

WHO: We won’t immediately have a ‘perfect vaccine,’ and it is ‘not realistic’ to expect the virus will soon be eliminated

A coronavirus vaccine is still many months away, but leading infectious disease experts are already warning that any eventual inoculation won’t be a one-and-done fix for this pandemic, and that we’ll instead have to learn to live with the looming threat of more coronavirus infections for months, if not years to come.

“Expecting that we will eradicate or eliminate this virus in the coming months is not realistic,” the World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan, executive director of health emergencies, said during a press briefing streamed from Geneva on Monday.

“And also, believing that magically we will get a perfect vaccine that everyone will have access to, is also not realistic.”

Ryan’s notes of caution about eradicating the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes — COVID-19 — come as the respiratory virus continues rapidly circling the globe, while infecting tens of thousands of new people across the US every day. On Sunday, Florida reported more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, a new record for any US state.

Studies of some of the millions of people around the world who’ve already had the coronavirus, and have recovered, are also starting to suggest that getting the disease once is not any kind of iron-clad protection.

Relying on herd immunity to protect people from the virus, either through widespread vaccination, or previous infections, may not be very good strategies for this pandemic. Likely, we’ll need to keep adhering to more basic public health and hygiene measures for many, many months into the future.

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