With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, hopes abound—but so do questions. With the time between the first inoculation and herd immunity likely to stretch for many months, Americans face a period of “vaccine purgatory,” as staff writer Sarah Zhang has noted.
She joins staff writer James Hamblin and executive producer Katherine Wells on the podcast Social Distance to explain what to expect in the near future and to answer listener questions about the vaccines.
Listen to their conversation here:
What follows is a transcript of the episode, edited and condensed for clarity:
Katherine Wells: Sarah, not to get to the point too quickly, but ... the vaccine!
Sarah Zhang: Yeah—it’s here! I don’t know about you guys, but I actually got a little emotional watching the first trucks coming out of the factory. I never thought I would feel emotional seeing UPS and FedEx trucks.
It’s just been such a long process. For much of the year, as I was reporting on vaccines, I was really just trying to tamp down people’s expectations. Because all of the scientists I was talking to were saying, “We don’t know how effective the vaccine might be. It might only be 50 percent. It’s going to take a long time to manufacture and distribute”—and so on. [There were] all of these reasons that we should not put too much hope in vaccines. And then the results came out, and they are so good; much better than anyone really expected. And now they are finally on the road and making it into people’s arms. It really feels like the beginning of the end.