Earlier this week I heard a press conference from the white house where President Trump said that he believes that we will have a vaccine for COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) very soon. As much as we would all want to that to be the case, that’s unfortunately not how vaccine development works.
There’s several steps involved in developing any vaccine that makes it to the marketplace: sequencing or determining the genetic makeup of the virus, creating a way of getting the immune system to respond to the virus without producing full blown symptoms or in other ways making the body sick, there are animal trials, then there are limited human trials, and all of this takes time. That’s why conservative estimates put the time for an expected vaccine to reach the marketplace at somewhere between 12 and 18 months and that’s why while we’re waiting, there are still things that we can do in order to limit the transmission and decrease our risk of personally becoming sick.
Our best defense is to put these strategies into practice: practicing good and consistent hygiene, practicing social distancing and appropriate hand-washing, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol or using soap and warm water and washing our hands for at least 20 seconds, practicing social distance and keeping ourselves beyond six feet of other people, and continuing to self isolate when we feel sick. When we do these things and put them into practice, we can limit the exposure risk as well as the transmission with risk while we all anxiously await the arrival of a vaccine and perhaps even a treatment or a cure.