How the Vaccine Will Affect COVID and Daily Life in the Coming Months

With the recent release of the COVID vaccines, many people have been given the hope that life will change and slowly return to normal (or as close to normal as possible). Experts say that it will take at least about 5 months for the vaccine to have a pronounced effect while the pandemic persists. This means that restrictions will stay in place, and people should continue to follow them as they have done before. 

Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said it’s important for us all to recognize that due to lags in vaccine production and high demand, there’ll be no “immediate change” in our society [1]. This means that transitioning back to our preconceived idea of “normal” will take time and we must wait just as we have waited the past year. Because there isn’t enough supply of vaccine doses to meet the demand of those that fall in the vaccination priority, frontline healthcare workers, and high-risk older adults, the effect of the vaccine will only be felt after months rather than days. Furthermore, Dr. Dan Culver, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic echoes Brewer’s opinion and adds that we must also take into account the strain our nation’s healthcare system is under at the moment [1]. As of now, there has been a decrease in cases in the US with a gradual release of the vaccine. Maya Levtov, a tenth-grade student at Scheck Hillel says, “I believe that the vaccine will have a gradual effect and that in about 4-5 months, people, especially teenagers, will be more lenient with COVID restrictions as most people, including teens, will be vaccinated.”

The vaccines were proven to be more than 90% effective in preventing severe illness. But it’s important to remember that it may still be possible to spread the virus to others even when one is vaccinated. This means that public safety measures will be essential for the foreseeable future until it’s clear whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus and until enough people get vaccinated to reach herd immunity, which health officials estimate to be when 75-80% of the population is vaccinated, [2]. Once a person is vaccinated and protected against serious illness, they may be tempted to return to pre-pandemic “norms.” With so much of the population still unvaccinated and the possibility of transmitting the virus to others, people should reconsider their temptation. It’s also possible for a person who gets vaccinated to still contract the virus because even if they experience only mild symptoms, they can potentially become “long-haulers” (people who carry symptoms for prolonged periods of time) [2]. Additionally, the long-term effects of the virus are still unclear to healthcare professionals. Scientists continue to look at potential respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological effects that may impact survivors for years after recovering. Despite these notions, daily life could feel different for those who get the vaccine, for they can start to feel a little more comfortable after living the past ten months at high risk of infection, serious illness, or death. Alan Stulovic, a tenth-grade student at Scheck Hillel says, “Obviously, life will not be back to how it was before, as we will still have to follow all precautions, but I think the vaccine will majorly impact society. After there are enough vaccines to supply the entire nation up to teenagers who are 16 and older, I will be able to play sports and hang out with friends while feeling free from any safety concerns. However, this will take time.” 

The impact of a new COVID19 vaccine will kick in significantly over summer and life should be back to normal by next winter, explains one of the creators of the vaccine. Prof Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder says, “I’m confident that…we could have a normal winter next year.”  BioNTech and co-developers Pfizer said the preliminary analysis showed their vaccine could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19. Shortly after, about 43,000 people took part in tests. In an interview on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Prof Sahin said he expected further analysis to show the vaccine would reduce transmission between people as well as stop symptoms developing in someone who has had the vaccine [3]. “I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine – maybe not 90% but maybe 50% – but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread,” he said. In addition, infectious disease clinician Shira Abeles of UC San Diego Health believes to have seen the effect of the vaccine one month into the U.S. vaccination campaign [4]. Beginning in mid-December 2020 some 11,000 UC San Diego Health employees started to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine, both of which hold mRNA that directs the body’s cells to make the surface protein from SARS-CoV-2, spike, to trigger an immune response. Despite reports of health care workers doubtful to get the vaccines, 96% of Abeles’s colleagues accepted the shots. Each week, those employees are tested for SARS-CoV-2, which exploded in San Diego county starting in December, even if they are feeling fine. At the peak, UC San Diego Health was detecting 20 to 30 infections each day in employees, many asymptomatic. By the third week in January, the number had fallen to a handful. Abeles emphasizes that the evidence is far from conclusive, but says “we are extremely hopeful” that the link between the drop and the mass vaccination is real [4]. More compelling evidence comes from Israel, home to the world’s most aggressive and best-studied immunization campaign so far. Between December 19th and February 4th, 39% of Israelis had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Per capita, that is far higher coverage than in any country other than the similarly small United Arab Emirates (36%). Now, Israel’s vaccination program has far outpaced any other country, and more than 30 percent of the country’s 9 million residents have already received both doses [5]. Israel has had a total of 745,000 cases, 694,000 of which recovered, and currently, Israel is decreasing in cases every day.  

Overall, as more COVID-19 vaccines show signs of being able to protect people from getting really sick, they’re fueling hopes that some sense of normalcy is within reach. Two vaccines have been authorized for emergency use in the United States and are slowly getting into arms across the country and are showing positive results [6]. As a result, people are looking forward to finally being able to safely hug loved ones, travel, and go to work, school, or the store without fear of getting infected. However, the unsteady vaccine supply across the country and ensuring enough people are vaccinated to reach herd immunity and slow the virus’s spread, means it’s likely going to take time for such hopes to become reality. Exactly how much time is unclear, though public health experts have said it may take until late summer or fall [6]. Still, every shot means that the person who received it is less likely to become ill; and every vaccinated person, along with continued public health measures, brings us one step closer to the end of the pandemic and a breath of fresh air and most importantly, relief. 

This picture shows how bad the cases were at their peak and how the vaccine is slowly lowering the cases per day in the United States (shows how people can begin to experience relief and will eventually have no need to worry).



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