In the last 17 days, there have been over one million new Covid-19 positive results in the United States, bringing the nationwide total to over five million cases (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 2020). In the last two weeks of July, over 97,000 children have tested positive (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020). The experts are encouraging everyone to practice social distancing and wear a mask, and yet a large part of the population is noncompliant. Schools are scrambling to develop ways to open safely, and Americans are yearning to return to a normal and safe life.
Typically, the process to develop a vaccine takes years. As per the Centers for Disease Control (2020), the process involves research, pre-clinical planning, and a clinical development stage. The clinical development stage involves three phases using volunteers who will receive the vaccine (CDC, 2020). These phases are followed by regulatory review and approval, manufacturing, and continued quality control (CDC, 2020). Over 160 research groups have been working on a vaccine, but two groups have entered testing phases in the Clinical Development Stage: Pfizer and BioNTech, and Moderna (Galewitz & Aleccia, 2020).
Some have argued there are ethical issues when offering financial compensation for volunteers in the clinical development stages and claim it can exploit low income individuals seeking a modest $1000 to $2000 compensation over a two-year period (Hiltzik, 2020). Others argue the vaccine is not live, cannot cause the virus, and as a result, people are volunteering to be a part of a necessary process and also look forward for the opportunity to experience immunity before the rest of the population (Galewitz & Aleccia, 2020).
While a vaccine is expected in early 2021 as per Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, the Gallup Poll completed in early August 2020 showed that 35% of Americans are already stating that they will not get a free, FDA approved Covid-19 vaccine (O’Keefe, 2020). It is important to look at other strategies to reduce the spread. One possibility is contact tracing, which involves locating a positive individual and communicating with all who have come in contact with them in order to assist in a two-week quarantine (Aschwanden, 2020). This program has been successful in South Korea and Germany but is not being used properly in the United States, as it is expensive and there has been zero federal funding (Aschwanden, 2020).
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020, July 30). Children and COVID-19: State Data Report (Rep.). Retrieved https://downloads.aap.org/AAP/PDF/AAP%20and%20CHA%20-%20Children%20and%20COVID-19%20State%20Data%20Report%207.30.20%20FINAL.pdf
Aschwanden, C. (2020, July 21). Contact Tracing, a Key Way to Slow COVID-19, Is Badly Underused by the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/contact-tracing-a-key-way-to-slow-covid-19-is-badly-underused-by-the-u-s/
Centers for Disease Control. (2020). Vaccine Testing and Approval Process. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/basics/test-approve.html
Galewitz, P., & Aleccia, J. (2020, August 07). Thousands Volunteer for COVID-19 Vaccine Study. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/thousands-volunteer-for-covid-19-vaccine-study/
Hiltzik, M. (2020, July 23). Column: Can a COVID-19 vaccine be tested without violating test subjects’ human rights? Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-07-23/covid-vaccine-human-rights
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. (2020, August). Home. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
O’Keefe, S. (2020, August 07). One in Three Americans Would Not Get COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/317018/one-three-americans-not-covid-vaccine.aspx