Vaccine, Experts Will Mark Pandemic’s End

November 9, 2020 – Americans trust a vaccine and public health experts to “mark the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, according to a new WebMD poll.

The survey of 1,000 respondents found that 27% said that a vaccine that prevents or reduces the risk of infection would mean the end of the pandemic. And 24% said they waited for public health officials to say it’s over.

The findings come as people increasingly question the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine and public health experts have come under fire for promoting measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.

“There is so much misinformation, and it can really hurt our ability to stop this pandemic,” said John Whyte, MD, chief medical officer of WebMD. “It’s encouraging to see that readers have confidence in the process – both to produce a safe and effective vaccine and to listen to public health messages that can help keep them safe in the meantime.”

At the same time, the poll reveals that readers do not see the end of the pandemic in the near future. The United States has reported a record number of cases in recent days and will now reach 10 million in total – most of all countries in the world.

Thirty percent say the pandemic will end in more than a year in the United States and 16% say it is seven months to a year.

Another 15% said the pandemic will end in less than 6 months, while 12% said it will “never” end. The remaining 26% said they were not sure.

“People are realistic and understand that the virus is not going to go away any time soon,” Whyte said. “They also understand that a vaccine will not immediately end the pandemic.”

Four vaccine candidates are in final stages of testing in the United States, and drug company executives have said safety and efficacy results could be available by the end of this year. First, the FDA would approve an emergency use authorization for the initial doses of the vaccine, and full approval would likely take place in early 2021.

Even after a vaccine is approved, it will take months to get enough vaccine for anyone who wants it, and there is no guarantee how well it will work to prevent infection.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in October that even with a vaccine, public health precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks could continue until the end of 2021 and until 2022.

“It won’t be like that with polio and measles, where you get a vaccine, the case is closed, it’s done,” Fauci said in a virtual meeting with doctors and university students. Thomas Jefferson. “These will be public health measures that will last for months and months.”

With the pandemic now in its ninth month, the United States has reported more than 237,000 deaths. The country recorded its highest daily record to date, with more than 132,000 cases on Friday. With the number of cases increasing in most states, hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Readers seemed ready to admit that it will last much longer. People over 55 were more likely to say the pandemic will last longer than a year, even though the answer was the top choice among all age groups. Women were also more likely to say the pandemic will last for more than a year, although men – and those who preferred not to share their gender – also said the pandemic would last for some time.

For the question about what would mark the end of the pandemic, readers were allowed to choose multiple answers. The most selected several choices:

  • 27%: when we have a vaccine that prevents or reduces the risk of infection
  • 24% When public health experts say it’s over
  • 10%: when service companies no longer need masks and social distancing
  • 9%: when other countries end travel restrictions for U.S. residents
  • 8%: when entertainment venues reopen or return to full capacity
  • 7%: when all students can return to class in person
  • 2%: When the president says it’s over

And 10% said they weren’t sure.

WebMD Health News


WebMD survey of 1,000 readers, November 3, 2020.

Johns Hopkins University: “COVID-19 Dashboard”.

The Atlantic: “The COVID monitoring project.”

WebMD: “WebMD poll: more acceptance of COVID vaccine.”

WebMD: “Fauci: masks, social distancing likely until 2022.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Jothi Venkat

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