Americans struggling through the worsening coronavirus outbreak got some rare good news this week as researchers delivered encouraging updates about potential vaccines. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose gloomy warnings have frustrated President Donald Trump, has sounded consistently enthusiastic about the prospects.
It’s a heartening thought that even as the country has failed to contain the virus or implement the kinds of public health measures experts have called for, there’s a deus ex machina coming to rescue us if we can just hold out long enough.
But some experts are worried about Americans getting too used to the idea that a miracle vaccine or treatment is around the corner. While there’s broad agreement the latest news is promising, some are concerned that the prospect of future relief could breed complacency amid raging outbreaks that are killing hundreds of people each day.
“I think we absolutely have to have a backup plan in place,” Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington, said. “It's something that’s not talked about enough.”
Even in a best-case scenario, the country may be six months or more away from widespread inoculations. And we may not be in a best-case scenario, which could require policymakers and the public to develop plans for the long haul.
“So far the story of the vaccine development seems to be that none of the things that could have gone wrong have gone wrong,” Bergstrom said. “That doesn't mean we’re home free by any means.”
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