Promising news about potential vaccine candidates brings a shred of hope to higher ed, but medical experts say “normal” is still several months away.
Many plans, memos, letters and campaigns from colleges and universities about COVID-19 have often included six words: “until a vaccine becomes widely available.”
Although an available vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, appears closer on the horizon now than it did last spring, medical and public health experts say it may not be an easy fix for the problems facing colleges and universities. Additionally, whether colleges and universities will be able to inoculate their student bodies themselves is still unclear.
Last week, the drug company Pfizer released promising data about a vaccine candidate it had co-developed with German company BioNTech, revealing that preliminary results suggest the vaccine is 90 percent effective.
But what exactly the vaccine is effective against is going to matter a lot for the timeline of the pandemic, said Dr. Aileen Marty, a professor and infectious disease specialist at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.