By the end of this year it is most likely that Europe and the US will authorize the use of a vaccine against coronavirus.
In fact, the UK just announced, the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.
This week the pharmaceutical company, Moderna, announced that it is applying for authorization for its 94,1 percent effective coronavirus vaccine. The drugmaker Pfizer also applied on November 20 for approval of their vaccine that has been proved to be 95 percent effective in preventing mild and serious cases of COVID-19 and 94 percent effective in adults over 65 years old with no serious safety concerns. And on November 23, Oxford and AstraZeneca announced interim results from two of its phase three trials. One conducted in the United Kingdom showed the vaccine was 90-percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
Does this mean the end of coronavirus?
And, even if there is no longer an immediate pandemic-level threat, the coronavirus will likely become endemic – meaning slow, sustained transmission will persist. The coronavirus will continue to cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu.
A vaccine is only effective to end a pandemic if a significant amount of the population is vaccinated and this seems far from reality. Although Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States have already pre-ordered enough vaccines to immunize over 100% of their populations, other countries do not have the resources to supply the vaccine to their populations.
Getting vaccinated or not?
In some countries, where the vaccine may not be available to most of the population, it will become another reason to control the borders, divide classes, and enlarging the wealth gap between economically powerful and developing countries.
Perhaps in a few years, we will be used to the new norm and these restrictions will be part of our new life. Just as you can’t enter certain countries unless you have the yellow fever vaccine. And, so then we might decide to get vaccinated. However, getting vaccinated won’t be an option for everyone.
In any case, the vaccine is better news than the ongoing, out-of-control pandemic. Our healthcare systems have collapsed, the containment measures have plunged the global economy into deep contraction, and in general, the world is calling for a “normal life” again.
Is a "normal life" an option?
Since the economy rules the world, it will be a priority to get us back on the cycle of consumerism. This was what happened during the summer when it seemed like the virus took a vacation.
The economy is threatened and the consequences of a World Crisis are indeed devastating. So probably, we will soon go back to our lives of working and spending.
But is this what we want for our planet?
This pandemic wasn’t a random occurrence. It has been demonstrated that the spread of the coronavirus was caused in part because of the alteration of ecosystems and the pressure of humans in natural environments. We want to live our normal lives without any consequences and that is not a possibility.
The Earth has had enough and we are suffering one of the many of the consequences. The experts say there will be more pandemics like COVID-19.
Maybe, we are still on time. What can we do?
Inequality is a major barrier in ensuring health and wellbeing, especially for the most vulnerable in society. Social and economic inequality manifests in unequal health risks. When faced with public health threats of a global scale, such as COVID-19 or climate change, we are only as strong as our weakest health system.
These measures don’t seem to be unreachable as long as there is a real desire to change. Citizens of this world and our politicians must work on re-writing the social rules to establish a better and respectful relationship with the Earth to prevent other pandemics. It is time for them to start thinking of our near future, putting into action the lessons learned, implementing measures to contain the real virus of this century, called Global Warming.
Lucila Piedra Harris
Volunteer in Praxis Organization.