pandemic future
September 22, 2020

The clearest way for the U.S. to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, Stat News reports, is to achieve herd immunity through vaccination. Experts estimate that will occur once 50 to 70 percent of the population is protected. But, as Kawsar Talaat, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University points out, "the most effective vaccine in the world is useless if no one will accept it."

There's a lot of skepticism about a coronavirus vaccine across the political spectrum in the U.S. A new Axios poll released Tuesday showed that only 43 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans would take a first-generation vaccine as soon as it's available, and the numbers have trended downward rapidly over the last few months.

The expectation is that there will be more than one vaccine rolling out over time, so it's possible those numbers would go back up as safety and efficacy become more clear, but there's certainly a disconnect between the public and the government and scientific community on the issue. "I think people will die because of a lack of faith in the system," Talaat said, arguing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have wavered on testing guidelines, and the Food and Drug Administration has been undermined by the optics of political interference from the Trump Administration. Stat notes that others want vaccine makers to be more transparent about the process.

Either way, Talaat said, "you can't talk your way into trust. You need to demonstrate that you're trustworthy, and that the process is trustworthy." Read more about how the pandemic may play out over the course of the next year at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

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