With millions of lives on the line, researchers have been working at an unprecedented pace to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
But that speed — and some widely touted breakthroughs — belie the enormous complexity and potential risks involved. Researchers have an incomplete understanding of the coronavirus and are using technology that’s largely unproven.
Among many worries: A handful of studies on COVID-19 survivors suggest that antibodies — key immune system proteins that fight infection — begin to disappear within months. That’s led scientists to worry that the protection provided by vaccines could fade quickly as well. Some even question whether vaccines will really end the pandemic. If vaccines produce limited protection against infection, experts note, people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing even after vaccines roll out.
Yet in an interview with KHN, the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that