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What's Going on With the COVID-19 Vaccine?

It has been seven months since the little demon pictured above took over the world. It’s safe to say that everyone in the world is ready to go back to normal, without masks, social distancing and the constant anxiety of trying not to get sick. If this deadly virus is anything like the flu, the chances of it going away on its own are slim to none; thus, the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is the best hope. The race for a successful and safe vaccine has been ongoing since the virus’s initial discovery. However, when it will be ready to use on the general population is still unknown. In the United States, the chief political leaders have been claiming a vaccine will be ready in the very near future, but this has ultimately mislead people. Science suggests that a realistic gauge of when this vaccine will be available is about 12 to 18 months or longer. Nevertheless, there is a possible release of a vaccine in sight; granted, it is a little blurry.

According to CNN, there are currently at least three viable vaccines that are in Phase 3 of clinical trials in the United States. While Phase 3 is usually the last phase of the trials, it will still take months to monitor the thousands of volunteers who are injected with the prototypes. However, if the results of these trials are compellingly positive, then the Data and Safety Monitoring Board has the power to stop the trials early and the board members can judge the successful vaccine as safe and effective. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said to Kaiser Health News, vaccine researchers would have a “moral obligation” to finalize the trial early in order to speed up the process of getting the vaccine out to the people. Fauci also told CNN that projections of the trials predict that a safe and effective vaccine could be released as soon as November or December of this year. Any vaccine that comes out earlier would not have gone through the proper trials and assessments. A safe bet would be not to expect a vaccine for public usage until 2021 because even a successful vaccine still has to be carefully and efficiently mass-produced and distributed.

According to USA Today, there are nine companies currently developing and testing vaccine candidates. This effort has been funded by over $10 billion in federal money. Even with all the progress, industry officials are constantly worried that the ethical and purely scientific process will be tarnished by the increasing political pressure from White House officials for the FDA to approve a vaccine before election day on Nov. 3. This pressure creates an overwhelming fear that the FDA may not do its job, which could lead to an extensive number of people choosing not to get the vaccine when one does eventually come out. In response to President Trump’s various statements that the vaccine will be ready for the public before election day, the head of the FDA and the leadership of numerous industries, pharmaceutical companies and organizations responsible for developing a vaccine have vowed to adhere to scientific principles and to keep politics out of this process. USA Today claims that the fastest development of a vaccine took about four years. With modern technology, previous research on other coronaviruses, an array of companies dedicated to finding a safe vaccine and federal funding, the COVID-19 vaccine could be out in record-breaking time.

So, what’s going on with the COVID-19 vaccine? It’s feasible and it’s coming in a safe and timely manner. It could very well lead to everyone's lives resuming after this unexpectedly long pause. While it definitely won’t be released before election day, scientists reassure everyone that it will only take a few more months. Many students around the world are struggling with remote learning, and having to deal with all the unfamiliar people and surroundings is sure to be even more strenuous and anxiety-inducing during this pandemic. While students may feel stuck in their rooms for days on end because they haven’t been able to meet new people, the hope of an end to this madness should encourage everyone to stay patient. In the meantime, everyone should still follow the CDC’s guidelines and do their best to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

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