As there are fewer than three months left to the year, and as another COVID-19 vaccination trial has been forced to hit the pause button, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine this year.
Experts are still hopeful one could be found by early 2021, though. However, if and when a vaccine has been found, the world doesn’t go back to the way it was overnight. It can take months or years for manufacturing and distribution to ramp up to get the vaccine to every person on earth—and that means some people are going to have to wait. And those who may have to wait the longest are the young and healthy, according to a leading scientist at the World Health Organization.
Matter of fact, WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, has warned that young people may have to wait all the way until 2022 to get any potential COVID-19 vaccination. The vaccine should be prioritized for frontline health and medical workers, the elderly, and the vulnerable, Swaminathan says.
“Most people agree that it’s starting with healthcare workers and frontline workers, but even then you need to define which of them are at highest risk and then the elderly and so on,” Swaminathan said at a press briefing yesterday. “There will be a lot of guidance coming out, but I think an average person, a healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine.”
If that’s the case, schools and universities could be among the last establishments to get back to regular pre-2020 in-person activities, meaning remote learning could be the norm for quite a while more. But as Swaminathan pointed out, “People tend to think that on the first of January or the first of April, I’m going to get the vaccine, and then things will be back to normal. It’s not going to work like that.”