Anti-vaxxers are already opposing a coronavirus vaccine that doesn't exist, and their movement could mean the virus never goes away

  • Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, researchers around the world have been scrambling to develop a vaccine.
  • Experts predict an effective and accessible one is still months, and likely years, away, but is the only chance of eliminating the virus and the fastest chance for life to ease into a new normal.
  • But anti-vaxxers, including some celebrities, are already outspoken against the effort.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak began, researchers around the world have been racing at historic speed to develop safe and effective vaccine.

There are currently more than 100 research efforts underway, including at least 20 that are expected to begin human testing this year, Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported.

The urgency is warranted: Experts say that until an effective vaccine is developed and widely distributed, the coronavirus will continue to upend life as we knew it.

Only then can vulnerable people like older adults and those with underlying conditions – a huge segment of the population when you take into account conditions like obesity that are linked with graver COVID-19 outcomes – be safe at large gatherings including workplaces, churches, and cruises.

A vaccine will also influence when schools and sporting events fully resume and borders can open.

All told, a highly-effective, widely-distributed vaccine is the “one great hope” at potentially eliminating the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organisation’s Executive Director of Health Emergencies Mike Ryan said during a press conference May 13.

But anti-vaxxers are already gearing up their fight against it, worrying experts that that hope will be dashed.

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a ReutersA woman holds a small bottle labelled with a ‘Vaccine COVID-19’ sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration

Nowhere in the world is at all close to herd immunity. The only way to get there without millions more deaths is a vaccine.

Some data suggests less than 10% of the world has been exposed to the coronavirus, meaning that without a widely-used vaccine, it could take four or five years to develop the type of “herd immunity” that could control the outbreak, Business Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported.

“You don’t get herd immunity until you have a huge per cent of your population that has had the disease,” Billionaire Philanthropist Melinda Gates told Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell. She’s seen the effect of a lack of vaccines in Africa, where infectious diseases are life-threatening and ubiquitous.

If we wait until there’s herd immunity without a vaccine, millions more people would die in the meantime, as there is also no treatment available.

“A safe, effective vaccine is the only way to safely build herd immunity to this virus now,” Emily Toth Martin, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health told Business Insider.

“This is not just about getting through the current crisis,” she added. “If this virus stays around, we need a vaccine to prevent resurgences in future generations.”

Medical coronavirus flu virus nyc street face mask gloves covid19 stores shut down closed restaurants social distancing delivery cox 108Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Anti-vaxxers’ stance on a coronavirus vaccine has been mixed

For some anti-vaxxers, witnessing what an uncontrolled virus can do – take away loved ones, jobs, and homes – has led them to reconsider their stance, with some reportedly saying they are “so scared” of COVID-19 that they would get a vaccine if it was available, CNN reported.

But others have doubled down on their beliefs that vaccines don’t work, cause illnesses, are part of a larger government scheme to take away rights, and that people should at least have a choice as to whether or not to get one.

“Fear of a disease – which we know very little about, relative to other similar diseases – must not lead to knee-jerk reactions regarding public health, nor can it justify supporting the hidden agenda of governmental as well as non-governmental bodies that have apparent conflicts of interest in plans to restrict personal freedoms,” a petition against mandatory vaccination argues. As of the afternoon of May 14, it had over 376,000 signatures.

Some celebrities have amplified these trains of thoughts. British singer and rapper M.I.A., for one, tweeted in March that that she’d rather “choose death” over getting a vaccine for the coronavirus.

More recently, Carmella Rose, an influencer with 2.3 million followers, included anti-vaxx notions in a no-longer-available Instagram story, the New York Times’s Taylor Lorenz tweeted.

https://twitter.com/TaylorLorenz/status/1260591850185990144?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

Other celebrities including tennis star Novak Djokovic and singer Lauren Jauregui have gotten backlash for promoting anti-vaccine messages.

Comfort with vaccines in younger generations with less exposure to deadly pandemics may be waning, but most people would get one

A CivicScience survey of 2,900 U.S. adults found that 69% of all adults would opt to receive a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available. Only 14% said they wouldn’t and 17% remained undecided.

Most hesitancy appeared to come from the 25- to 54-year-old age group; 79% of adults 79 and older, who are most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 cases, said they’d get a coronavirus vaccine.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult in early March also seemed to find a generational divide, with only about half (53%) of 35- to 44-year-old US adults said definitively that “Yes, I would get vaccinated” against COVID-19 if one were to become available.

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