Wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands again and again. That’s the new normal that has shaped our lives since the pandemic began. But what will our lives look like after we have an effective vaccine against the coronavirus? Will we ever go back to the old normal?
According to Huffpost, experts predict that reverting to the old normal — our carefree lives before the pandemic — won’t happen any time soon even with a vaccine.
“One thing that is important to remember: This is not going to be one of those light switch things when all of a sudden we have a vaccine and everyone is vaccinated,” said Hilary Godwin, the dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Godwin told Huffpost that she expects we will still be wearing masks a year from now.
“Mask-wearing will be more normal, the way it has been in many Asian countries in recent years,” she said. Other experts pointed out that while it is admirable scientists are working at warp speed to develop a vaccine, it will be a while until we know how effective it is. The flu vaccine is only 40% to 60% effective, depending on the strain that arrives each year, according to Huffpost.
And a vaccine won’t necessarily stop the spread of the virus.
According to Ladders, Thomas Friedan, M.D., former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “Even with a vaccine, there is no going back to normal anytime soon,” speaking at a CNBC Workforce Executive Council virtual event. “It looks more likely than not that this virus keeps circulating even with a vaccine. COVID is here to stay.”
When a vaccine is developed, another roadblock will be getting enough doses to the public in a timely manner.
According to The Hill, a comprehensive report outlining the “efficient manufacturing, financing, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine” said that given the recommendation of two doses per person, we’ll need 462 million doses to achieve herd immunity and 660 million doses for the entire U.S. population. The report, submitted by the Center for American Progress, said that the government has not released a comprehensive vaccine plan.
“A massive coordinated effort is needed and there is little evidence that the Trump administration is adequately preparing now,” stated the report, according to The Hill.
What we can count on in the future, said Godwin, is more remotely operated industries and fewer business trips.
“We now know we don’t have to be physically in the same room to accomplish things,” she told Huffpost.
But don’t count on attending concerts or sporting events any time soon, said Tony Moody, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Duke University. He said that instead of holding events in closed venues, outdoor social gatherings will become more of the norm since outdoor air seems to mitigate the risk of viral transmission.
Psychologists predicted that we will suffer “many, many long-term effects” from the pandemic, after Americans have been isolated both physically and socially for months. Communities will face tough decisions on how to resume normal social activities and send children back to school.
Godwin pointed out the not all Americans will rush to get vaccinated and noted we have a long history of opposing vaccines, according to Huffpost, concluding that the virus will still be circulating even with a vaccine.
“We are going to be living with COVID for a while,” she said.
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