America’s coronavirus crisis will end — but not soon

By | September 6, 2020

Juliette Kayyem write:

A weary friend of mine—another working mom—recently texted to say she couldn’t decide which aspect of daily life during the coronavirus pandemic was worse: “the insanity or the monotony.” Either way, the misery will not end when 2020 does. The new year will inherit many of the same problems that have become so grindingly familiar in 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got some Americans’ hopes up with its recent instruction that states should be ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine in the next couple of months. President Donald Trump is desperate to convince the public that a vaccine to COVID-19 will arrive by a politically convenient deadline: “maybe even before November 1,” he said Friday, or “some time in the month of October.”

But Trump’s Operation Warp Speed is an election ploy, not a guarantee of scientific progress. Drug companies that are competing to develop vaccines are banding together to resist political pressure to take shortcuts in safety testing. On NPR Thursday, Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said that an effective vaccine by the end of next month is “extremely unlikely” and that population-wide distribution of a vaccine could take until the middle of next year.

In other words, the American coronavirus crisis will end—just not soon. “With a combination of public-health measures with a vaccine that’s reasonably good,” the infectious-diseases expert Anthony Fauci told me in a recent online interview, “by the time we get around through 2021, we can start having some form of normality. Maybe not exactly the way it was, but certainly different than what we’re doing right now.” Fauci’s prediction is based on the best-case scenario in which, “as we get into 2021, we should start seeing a substantial number of [vaccine] doses available.” [Continue reading…]

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