What If Everyone Gets Coronavirus?

Sick woman in bed

As vaccines rollout to more people, some experts fear everyone will eventually contract COVID-19.

A Game You Don’t Want to Lose

The defense against COVID-19 runs parallel to American foot­ball. Defensive vaccines try to pre­vent any­one from sack­ing the quarter­back. For most of the year 2020, doctors were on the offen­sive team with­out the ball—treating the virus post-infection.

Through­out 2021, several pharma­ceu­tical companies are moving to the defense with vaccines. Meanw­hile, the popu­la­tion is still wearing protec­tive gear on the line of scrimmage.

The team members off of the field have the best chance of walking away uninjured. Similarly, people who avoid crowds are least likely to contract the corona­virus. Some epi­demio­lo­gists feel everyone will get COVID-19 at some point. Late in 2020, Medscape revealed that only 6% of its site visitors or their acquaintances have escaped a COVID-19 diagnosis. How your body reacts to the virus depends on many factors.

Early Draft Picks

Nine companies are sprinting to the end zone with potential vaccines. “We, the undersigned bio­pharma­ceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commit­ment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accord-ance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles,” the state­ment read. It was signed by the CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi.

The first two vaccines that have approval in the United States and Europe are from Moderna and Pfizer. Each requires two timed doses. Healthcare workers and elderly within assisted living facilities are the first priority for vaccination. Johnson+Johnson is working on a single-dose vaccine. Talk of spreading out the doses to partially cover more people is underway. Meanwhile, single-dose vaccines are in final stages of testing.

First Down

Sacked With Coronavirus

As more vaccines become ready for wide distribu­tion, an important question arises: How do we prioritize those who receive it? Various models are being explored.

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, is director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center and School of Medicine. Caplan raises good questions about the broad category of “healthcare workers.”

Next, we might vaccinate people at higher risk for severe symptoms, including the elderly, those with underlying condi­tions, and certain racial and ethnic minorities. This may not matter since 20 or 30 million doses could be depleted by doctors, nurses, maintenance workers, and administrators in the healthcare industry.

The current deployment strategy is to vaccinate health care workers and the residents of long-term care facilities. First shipments not high enough to fulfill this goal. So hospitals are prioritizing a subset of Tier 1 personnel. Some states are offering vaccines on a first-come-first serve basis to the elderly.

With doubts over efficacy, less than half of people polled say they trust a vaccine. Lack of confidence breeds noncompliance.

Sacked With Coronavirus

Half Time

After millions of people receive vaccines, can you anticipate the reac­tion? People fed up with wearing masks and home confine­ment may lax rules of face coverings. A two-stage vaccine might embolden them shun other protective measures. Or without inoculation, individuals may feel that enough other people are vaccinated to reduce risk.

Football players do not remove their gear for the remain­der of the game after a touchdown. Similarly, a vaccine will not eliminate the need for masks or various safety precau­tions. It is not as though others can tell by looking who have been vaccinated.

A handful of studies on COVID-19 survivors suggest that antibodies—key immune system proteins that fight infection—begin to disappear within months. A handful of patients have been reinfected during this interval. This has led scientists to worry that the protection provided by vaccines could fade. Manufacturers assure the public that vaccines build stronger immunity than your body produces after recovering from COVID-19.

Will the virus mutate each season like the flu or subside when enough people receive vaccinations? Already a super-virus variant has infected a few people in Europe and the United States.

If everyone does eventually contract COVID-19, as suggested earlier, it will occur when your defense weakens. If you remove your mask near virus carriers or wear an ill-fitted mask, coronavirus is likely to tackle you. Remain calm, patient, and exercise precautions.

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