COVID Vaccine timeline
A vaccine is (a) coming in a few months (b) 12-18 months or (c) never.
- Well, waiting for (c) is dumb -- crushing the economy for something that's never happening? We should get on with our lives. I'd rather take a 1/1000 chance of dieing than be a prisoner for life.
- if (b) shelter-in-place for 12-18 months will destroy ≈60% of the jobs (virtually all small business, most travel/hospitality, many service businesses, etc). The SIP policy would move us backwards 50+ years economically, and cause more deaths than COVID-19. So we have to get herd immunity quicker for the good of humanity/civilization.
- The only time shelter-in-place might make sense is if you know it's coming in <6 months. Maybe we can ride it out without complete destitution. And I just don't think that's likely.
While a vaccine in 6 months is a possibility, it is not the most likely scenario, so we shouldn't bet on it.
Remember, we have never gotten a SARS-1 vaccine, and that was 2006, and only limited treatments. So the odds aren't for a quick SARS-2 one -- even with the reality that a lot of our research in SARS-1 translates, and we 3 different stage 1 or 2 trials going on (and 30 candidate vaccines).
The truth is you need at least a few months for first human trials to give you much. Then you'll need a few months for a wider set, then a few months for a wider set. Then a few months more to scale and before you'd do a general vaccine -- and even then, that's pushing it... you're talking 12-18 months is most realistic, even if we have no setbacks or the disease doesn't mutate enough to make you start over.
So I think we have a good chance of getting something that can help with front line responders in the next 6 months. Which is great. But not one that we can give all elderly and at risk within that time, let alone a general one.
Remember the way it works -- the risks of not taking the vaccine have to be greater than the risks of taking one.
If you're exposed to the virus daily, or have a 10-15% of dieing if you get it (over 85), then sure -- an unproven vaccine isn't that bad an idea. But in the general healthy population where you have ≈1/1000 chance of dieing if you get it (or less), then an unproven vaccines odds of having greater than 1/1000 bad reaction is probably higher than that. So safer NOT to get it.
So we're back to we should be trying to get Herd Immunity (for the young and health), and learning social distancing (not shelter in place).
Either way, logic says that shelter-in-place as a short term policy to prevent saturation of healthcare was a little paranoid (based on some numbers) but not unreasonable (to me). But now that we know the death rate is <1/10th of what WHO/CDC initially claimed -- and we know hospitalization, ICU and ventilator rates are a fraction of models, you want to let the disease run its course a little more. And get hospitals around 70% capacity and keep it there, until we have herd immunity. More the Swedish model.