The COVID-19 vaccines are coming – but then, what comes next?

By Bernie Yeo

 

“Will I be completely immune to COVID-19?”

“Will the vaccinated be allowed to participate in large gatherings?”

“Will I be allowed to travel overseas?”

These are among the many questions that need to be addressed as Malaysia gears up to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the next few months.

However, speculations notwithstanding, it is perhaps safe to say that nobody really knows the answers to these questions yet.

And there’s more. It is also still unknown how long the vaccines can protect us from the coronavirus, or, more importantly, if they can completely stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Until scientists can confidently provide these answers, where do we truly stand?

The Malaysian government has managed to procure COVID-19 vaccines for 82.8% of the population. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a televised speech on Dec 22 announced that the vaccines will be administered to front-liners before being given to high-risk groups such as the elderly as well as those with non-communicable diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.

Despite this bit of positive news, however, experts have stopped short of assuring people that life can truly return to normal post-vaccination, or if a complete return to normalcy will ever happen, for that matter.

According to Dr Jerome Kim in his recent interview with Asian Boss, for example, having a vaccine, getting vaccinated and getting to go out to do things again will not all come at once.

The director-general of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), a Seoul-based non-profit organisation dedicated to vaccine development and delivery to the developing world, said that we must continue to wear masks, observe physical distancing, and practise hand hygiene even after getting vaccinated.

“Such measures are the prices that we must continue to pay to protect ourselves and others and to avoid lockdowns and even harsher restrictions,” he emphasised.

And so, with widespread vaccination in Malaysia still months away, it is probably for the best that we take experts’ opinion about the coronavirus to heart, because until scientists can answer all our burning questions about what comes next after the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, ‘normal’ is still a ways off. – Jan 25, 2021

 

 

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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