Waiting for a vaccine

04 November 2020
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I used 1918 Spanish Flu as an approximate reference, although admittedly my understanding of the latter's history was somewhat patchy. In short I was expecting there to be two waves, with the second being significantly less severe than the first, before finally burning itself out on a time-scale of around 12-18 months. On this time-scale I thought that by the time a vaccine reached universal availability and affordability Covid-19 would have mostly run its course, but practically everyone else thinks otherwise.

Off the mind

Back in the spring when the message was “flatten the curve” — with particular emphasis on the as it implies only one peak — my attention was taken up by the moving-out effort so I hardly ever thought about how and when the pendemic would end. Later on I actively tried not to think about things as a general coping strategy, and with most of the world's politicians talking about opening up the idea of a second wave was far from the mind. Looking back the second quarter of this year was a time that just about everything noteworthy are things I want to forget, and by mid-July events meant that anything resembling a concrete future plan was completely blown out of the water. I am not sure of the exact point I had mentally written off the entire year but my best guess is mid-May. For some people this would be regarded as an opportunity to clear personal back-logs but I was not in a position to do anything like that.

Empty airport

Expected time-frame

Let us assume that a vaccine is what will mark the end of the pandemic, and no-one who knows what they are talking about is expecting one before new-year. A multi-year approvals process has already been squashed down into a matter of months. However developing a vaccine is one thing but there is still a long way to go for something cutting-edge to reach universal availability. By this I mean anyone who wants one can get it for well under $100 all-in. Approval, ramping-up production, subsidies, logistics — they all play a part. Putting together remarks from Dr Mike Hanson and Bill Gates it seems that late-2021 is when such universal availability is expected, and that assumes geo-politics does not get in the way.

Last new-year

What this means

To help things sink in a general availability of a vaccine in late-2021, assuming that is what will end the pandemic, implies the duration of the whole episode is not even passed the half-way point yet. I had vaguely hoped of spending Christmas 2021 in New Zealand but even that is now looking doubtful. I am already in limbo due to accommodation issues and leaving aside the dire economic consequences of all the lock-downs it means it will have been virtually two years by the time I could get on with my life. By that point I will be wanting to start over rather than trying to salvage what is left of things from before it all started.