It’s unmitigated good news. But it would be a tragic mistake to relax our vigilance right away.
The announcement that a coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer with the German drugmaker BioNTech is more than 90 percent effective at preventing Covid-19 cases — much better than many anticipated — is cause for celebration. With a vaccine of this efficacy, suppression of the disease is entirely realistic.
Unfortunately, this development doesn’t mean we can all relax and start doing more things. It means we need to tighten up even further until the vaccine becomes available.
The goal is now no longer to learn to live indefinitely with the virus. It’s to get as many people through the winter as possible without getting sick. Keeping the infection rate low is important, because that’s what will allow us to push the virus into the ground as quickly as possible once we have the vaccine in hand.
A death avoided this winter is a life saved. We are no longer delaying the inevitable.
It’s always been hard to convince people to make good choices when considering sacrifices. Uncertainty around when we’d get an effective vaccine made it even harder. Cutting off in-person interactions for an uncertain stretch of time was excruciating. But it may be more palatable to hunker down if it’s only for a defined period.