COVID-19 is considered a “novel” virus. This means the virus has never been seen before. Therefore, there has been no vaccine yet for it. A vaccine is currently being researched. They are using data from older coronaviruses (SARS and MERS) to help develop the current vaccine.
The vaccine has to be safe. Vaccines are first tested in animals. Then they are tested in humans. Some older coronavirus vaccines (for SARS) were harmful. This is why this is important.
The vaccine has to protect from infection for a long period of time. You can be infected again with the same virus weeks to years later.
The vaccine has to protect older people. People over 50 years old are at high risk for severe COVID-19. Older people do not respond to vaccines as well as younger people.
When will a vaccine be available?
Some vaccines take years to develop. Vaccines have to be both safe AND effective. The FDA is allowing to skip animal safety testing because of how severe COVID-19 is. It is going straight to human testing. This should help speed up the process. This could still take at least 6 months to complete. Vaccine manufacturers then have to make the vaccine. The vaccine then has to be distributed to all healthcare providers in the country to be given to patients.
Who will get the vaccine first?
People will be separated into four groups:
- People who have a high risk of becoming infecting. This will mostly be healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, first responders, etc.)
- People who have a high risk of getting severe COVID-19 and dying from it (old people and already sick people)
- People who are needed for essential jobs. This includes people such as grocery store workers, mail carriers, etc.)
- People who are at high risk of spreading the disease. This includes pretty much everyone else.
What to do in the mean time?
Stay 6 feet away from people. Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds frequently. Do not leave your house if you feel sick or have been with someone who is sick.