The pandemic will go on a lot longer than people are probably comfortable with, to the extent that the disease is likely to become endemic. And it's likely to drag on a while: Moderna has committed to making 1.4 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, which suggests a couple of things:
- Moderna thinks other vaccine platforms won't actually be able to scale. This is somewhat laid out by the continuing manufacturing problems Astrazeneca has had in Belgium, Mexico, and a Dutch plant that hasn't been certified for production yet. Johnson & Johnson has similarly had manufacturing problems delaying shipments and putting commitments at risk. Likewise, the Russians are also facing similar problems scaling their Sputnik V vaccine. One might be excused for thinking this is a trend among vectored virus vaccines.
- And/or, a variant booster will become necessary. Moderna has already committed to work on a vaccine for the the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.
For its part, Pfizer says they do not foresee strong demand for their COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, although they are similarly lining up for possible variant boosters, this mainly on the strength of many entrants to the market. Assuming Moderna is right and Pfizer is wrong, this could mean a COVID shot becomes an annual affair, like influenza. The good news, to a certain extent, appears that the virus is convergently evolving, i.e. the same mutations are showing up in different places. That is, we have a pretty good idea where the beast is headed. We also now know that the impact of the variants on T-cell reactivity is "negligible". Antibodies are nice, but they're not the whole immune system. In all, this makes it look like we're getting very close to this pandemic coming to an end.
Update 2021-03-30: Some interesting polling data:
- First, a Washington Post poll showing "one in three" health care workers are not confident the vaccines have been adequately tested for safety and effectiveness.
While about 2 in 10 health-care workers said they had scheduled a shot or were planning to, 3 in 10 health-care workers said they were unsure about getting vaccinated or not planning to do so. As many as 1 in 6 health workers said that if employers required them to get vaccinated, they would leave their job.
- Next, the Wall Street Journal summarizes a U.S. Census Bureau poll showing that for the first time since polling began in December, "will not take" is now below 20% ("about 17% of adults said they would either definitely or probably not get vaccinated, down from 22% in January"). Good news.