It’s important to note that this a double-blind study, which means one half of the study gets the vaccine and the other gets the placebo, so I won’t know which I got–the actual vaccine or the placebo—until the study gets unblinded.
Also the news that the vaccine is coming doesn’t mean the pandemic is behind us. While this trial is a very exciting tangible step, this is not the end of the pandemic. We still have months to go, and even when the vaccine is widely available, probably sometime between spring and summer of 2021, there will still be hurdles, including capacity and delivery. (The Pfizer vaccine, like the Moderna one, requires two shots, approximately 21 days apart.
Then there’s the question of vaccine hesitancy. Four years of Trumpism has been very bad for scientists and for American’s belief in science. You’ll remember that in 2007, a pre-presidency Donald Trump postulated that vaccines might be responsible for the uptick in autism (they’re not), an irresponsible statement he has never retracted. And only about half of Americans say they would take the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps fearing it will be rushed to market before its safety has been proven. The good news about this coronavirus vaccine is that the efficacy is so high that it will take less time to get to herd immunity. And a new Biden administration, one that actually believes in science, may be able to convince more people that this vaccine will be safe.
This week, when my podcast colleague Rick Wilson and I interviewed Dr. Eric Topal, a noted medical researcher and author, he called the new vaccine a “super human vaccine,” the kind that, like the measles vaccine in the 1960s, could eradicate an illness with its efficacy.
Pfizer and Moderna aren’t the only players in this game, of course. There are still a lot of vaccine trials going on around the world and volunteers are needed. (My husband recently enrolled in a different vaccine trial.)
At the White House briefing on Friday, at which Trump tried to claim credit for the Pfizer vaccine and also refused to answer questions about when he would concede the election to Joe Biden, Moncef Slaoui, the person in charge of Operation Warp Speed, reiterated there is still much work to do. “I would like to take this opportunity to invite as many Americans as possible who would like to volunteer to participate in these clinical trials,” Slaoui said, “as that’s the only way we are able to achieve a demonstration of the safety and the efficacy of these vaccines.”
We have an opportunity to do good here. I am not a particularly brave person, but in a country with uncontrolled virus spread I’d much rather take my chances with the vaccine than with the virus. As I write this column, tens of thousands of Americans are getting infected with coronavirus.
You have a chance to save others and change the course of history. Will you do it? I did.