In a recent interview with The Hasting Center, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the COVID vaccines currently being produced for market will not protect against person-to-person transmission, which means that someone can still pass on the virus even if they get the vaccine.
When the news broke that two COVID vaccines are close to coming to market, Americans were excited about the possibility of life returning to normal. However, throughout the pandemic Dr. Fauci has been very public in his desire to keep things closed and continue the lockdowns. The introduction of vaccines hasn’t really changed that.
Though the vaccines have a high efficacy rate, that doesn’t preclude the person from actually becoming infected, though they may have mild or no symptoms, and then passing on the virus. The seasonal flu vaccine most Americans are used to also works like this. As a result, Dr. Fauci argues that the public health measures that have been instituted across the country should continue.
“The issue is that you’re not going to be completely protected against a degree of infection that you might not even notice that you might be able to spread to others,” he said. “Which is the reason why the message you may have heard me say over the last couple weeks in the media is that getting vaccinated with a highly efficacious vaccine does not mean that you’re going to abandon completely public health measures.”
While Americans generally trust their health professionals, there’s no doubt that this statement was a bit of a disappointment.
In March 2021, it will have been a year since the lockdowns were instituted and most Americans adopted the coronavirus guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes mask wearing, social distancing, working from home and a variety of other measures meant to stem the transmission, which may or may not be effective.
A recent Danish study concluded that “the recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wears by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use.”
If the COVID vaccines work like the flu vaccine, why can’t Americans return to a degree of normalcy after they’ve been released to market? If health professionals don’t require Americans to stay indoors, adopt social distancing or wear masks in mass during flu season, then why would it be continued for COVID? After all, treatments for COIVD-19 are becoming more and more effective.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Dr. Fauci stated his belief that mask wearing should continue into the third or fourth quarter of 2021. That means, at the earliest, mask wearing could end by July 2021.
Though Americans who are particularly vulnerable to the virus should remain vigilant, the rest of the country should, more or less, start the process of getting back to business sooner rather than later.
Photo from LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS