- Elizabeth Xu
How and when will COVID 19 end?
No one ever thought that COVID 19 would become a long-lasting pandemic. No one thought it would shut down so many sectors of the economy at once. In Canada, it has already killed nearly ten thousand people, shut down many businesses and left nearly two million people unemployed. Worldwide, nearly a million people have lost their lives to COVID and the cost of damages is believed to be at least a trillion dollars. The sad news is that it is likely to have a second wave and possibly a third wave if people continue to ignore public health rules and spread the virus even more. This is very concerning because we have already lost so many lives and cannot afford to lose more lives, not to mention the threat of a worldwide economic recession. The only way to avoid this scenario is for everyone to obey public health measures. As we can see this solution doesn’t seem to work everywhere. Everyone can only hope that a vaccine will come and end this pandemic. But is this true? Will a vaccine end this pandemic? When will the vaccine be available?
Scientists say there are two popular possible outcomes of the coronavirus. The first is that the majority of the population gets COVID and herd immunity is developed. This is the fastest way of ending the pandemic. This outcome seems likely to occur in certain countries that have poor virus prevention measures or people who do not adhere to the rules. This outcome is likely to end the pandemic quickly but will cost many lives. The second possible outcome is the one we are currently likely to end up with here in Canada. This involves setting up many prevention measures until a vaccine is developed. As we are likely using this as our solution, the end of the pandemic will likely be far away, as developing a vaccine takes a long time if we want it to be safe. We have currently made much progress but most experts think a vaccine is likely to become widely available by mid-2021at the earliest.
The reason it takes so long to develop a vaccine is that it must go through many trials and must be approved by the government agencies like the FDA. We still have a lot to get done to show the vaccine is safe. It would be problematic if it caused more problems than the disease. To avoid that scenario, we need to go through 4 clinical trials to know that the vaccines work. First, there is the pre-clinical trial where vaccines are not yet used in humans. Next comes the 3 stages of vaccine development. The first phase involves the vaccine being tested in small scale safety trials, the second phase involves expanding the scale of experimentation and the last phase is to test the vaccine on a large scale to see it’s effectiveness. These trials can take 12 to 18 months. Then it must take a few more months to be approved. Usually, it takes government agencies months or maybe years to approve a vaccine but in this case, all federal agencies are trying to speed up the process as fast as they can. It is very difficult to say how long it will take.
The difficult part is not only developing the vaccine and approving it, but also making billions of doses and distributing the vaccine to everyone. For the vaccines to be effective 60-70% of the world population will have to be vaccinated. This will be a very difficult task because that means we’ll need to have billions of vaccines to distribute around the world. Some people might also need double doses a month apart, doubling the amount of effort to vaccinate, as well as manufacture the vaccines and needles. It will also take a substantial amount of time to distribute. That being said, even if we do get a vaccine by mid-2021, the virus will only be eradicated until most people get the vaccine. This will take several years. The World Health Organization believes this will take until 2024.
Although these are all predictions made by experts, nobody is certain of how and when COVID 19 will end. With the response of people always changing and the potential evolvement of the virus, the end of COVID is still a mystery. It can be quick if the virus doesn’t evolve, all the trials are successful, quickly approved by government agencies and if we can distribute it quickly. However, there are no guarantees everything will go so smoothly. There will always be some obstacles because ending the virus with a vaccine is a more difficult process then some might expect. However, it's important to stay positive. If we can continue to properly follow public health rules, we can prevent lockdowns and consequences on public health and economies. This way, waiting for a vaccine can be far more bearable.