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Patience in a Pandemic


    For the past 10 months, a Coronavirus vaccine has been the light at the end of the tunnel — a chance at lowering the death rate and eventually being able to walk around face mask free. Now that the long awaited vaccine has become available, through about $2.5 billion of federal government support as well as donations to research institutions from private individuals, many are optimistic that “normal” is closer than ever. 
     But don’t get impatient, yet.
     Despite vaccine breakthroughs, the road to a corona-free America is still a long way off. Unfortunately, the vaccine, while certainly the best solution to the pandemic, does not magically erase social distancing and precautionary guidelines. 
     Vaccines aren’t made overnight and viruses don’t disappear in a month.  While the average vaccine takes 5 to 10 years to create, manufacture, and distribute, the coronavirus vaccine has proven to be an impressive feat for the medical and scientific community. Due to the urgency and world-wide nature of COVID , teams of scientists from across the world worked collectively to achieve a safe, well-tested, FDA-approved vaccine. Despite this rapid turn out, companies still need time to make enough vaccines and distribute them to the entire population.
     As it is, they still haven’t tested them on children and teenagers.
     There are over 330 million people in the USA and each person would need two vaccines, an initial dose and a booster shot. So far, the vaccines have gone to those at the frontlines and those most at risk, such as nurses and doctors, the elderly, and those with preexisting conditions. Millions of people in that first group remain unvaccinated, though, as pharmacies and health agencies struggle to manage the surge of need. 
     That leaves the average American wondering when they can expect to receive this potentially life saving vaccine. Unlike the raids of toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, a vaccine cannot be wrestled over or bought in a frenzy. Experts say that the ordinary citizen will receive a vaccine by spring of 2021 at the earliest. 
     This means until the majority of the American population receives the COVID vaccine social distancing and other COVID guidelines must still be practiced. Just because we have a vaccine, doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. While many of us hoped COVID regulation would come to an end by 2020, the fact is that we are still deep into the pandemic with a long way to go: less than 4% of the American population is vaccinated. 
     We’ve seen what happens when social distancing is ignored: cases skyrocket and hospitals overflow. We have to continue to social distance and wear masks in public until a majority of the population has received the vaccine for not only our safety but others as well. With hope, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force will be able to push out the first dose of vaccines for as many Americans as possible, even if the second dose is delayed. 
     While summer 2021 may seem far away right now, we can have hope that with a new president, one that is acceptant and aware of science, the end of the pandemic is possible. We may live differently until then, and we may have to change the way we live afterwards, but the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. It may be farther than we would like, but with continued social distancing, it is in sight nevertheless.  


Written by Pratiksha Bhattacharyya

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