Can a sped-up vaccine be trusted?

Jessie Castellano, Contributing Writer

This year has been one of the most complex years in history, bringing a host of challenges in the past nine months. Since January, the coronavirus pandemic has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, killing over one million people and infecting over 33 million. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, but there could be a clearing. With one dose vaccine testing beginning, could the pandemic be on its way out? Or, will people be exposed to an ill-prepared solution? 

Multiple candidates have worked closely to create these vaccines, with Johnson & Johnson being among the major companies involved. Two other candidates are Moderna and a collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech. There exists an emphasis on clinical trials because the vaccines are fast to manufacture but fragile in their current state. Some have to be packaged and preserved at frozen temperatures. Although these vaccines have been developed at a fast pace, public health departments are still uncertain as to whether they are effective and reliable. Departments of public health in cities, states and territories are working on vaccine plans for the end of October. These companies state that they could know by the end of the year if these vaccinations work, but that could be unlikely. Even if one of these vaccines shows to be the most effective, all trials will continue due to the ambiguity of this pandemic. It takes years of clinical studies to see the side effects of medicines and get a clear, definitive outline of the body’s reaction. There still remains a great deal of uncertainty about the future of individuals who have already been infected by the coronavirus. Is there a chance this vaccine will harm them? Simply put, no one can know without time to properly test the drug. 

President Donald Trump has claimed numerous times that a vaccine will be in place before the Nov. 3 election day. Investing more than $10 billion in private companies, the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program is pushing for this vaccine. Yet a big concern for many people is the possibility of being forced to receive the vaccine. In modern society, there is a wide array of people who, whether due to personal or religious reasons, oppose vaccines and immunizations. If nearly all individuals in a given country receive this vaccine while others refuse, there will be a large portion of society who are still susceptible to infection. This could increase the spread of COVID-19, causing additional problems as most attempt to take precautions to eradicate the virus. 

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has navigated the United States through this pandemic since the beginning, does not promise a return to normalcy in the United States until late 2021, even despite the vaccinations supposedly beginning in the next month or so. One of the largest contributors to vaccine development, Johnson & Johnson, believes that if the vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company will be able to make up to one billion doses per year. At this rate, infections will gradually decrease to potentially stop the spread. Hopefully, these vaccines will be the first step toward normalcy for the world and effectively put an end to the pandemic.

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