Earlier this week, significant advances were made in COVID-19 research, as Pfizer and BioNTech released data showing their initial vaccine was 90 percent effective for reducing symptomatic COVID-19 cases. But, while a vaccine may be authorized and put into practice in the next few months, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to throw away your mask and hand sanitizer anytime soon.
Here are several things to keep in mind as more pharmaceutical companies release their trial data — and to consider before getting excited about things returning to some sense of normalcy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a vaccine could be available to the general U.S. population by April 2021. The first people to receive the vaccine would likely be health care workers, elderly individuals and individuals with underlying conditions. And the U.S., U.K., European Union, Canada and Japan have claimed over 80 percent of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine supply, meaning the vaccine wouldn't be available to less developed countries until the end of 2021 — so international travel will remain largely out of the question for a while.
However, it's not clear how easy it will be to ensure the vaccine can go from pharmaceutical companies to the general public. For example, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at temperatures below -176°F, making it unlikely to be distributed to every doctor’s office and pharmacy.