As we mark the official anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts said there’s still so much we don’t know about the virus and its variants.
However, there are several key factors that could determine the path the next year could take.
More U.S. residents are getting vaccinated at the rate of about 2 million doses daily. If this continues, 70% of the U.S. population could be fully vaccinated by the end of July and 85% by mid-September.
But will they choose to be vaccinated?
“If a significant number of people do not get vaccinated, then that would delay where we would get to that endpoint,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Experts are also concerned about the impact of states dropping restrictions too soon.
“To really throw caution to the wind, to open everything up all of a sudden is not the way to go,” said Dr. Arnold Monto. “You want to do it gradually and see what the effects are.”
Other factors include how long the vaccine’s protection will last and if there are variants that current vaccines won’t be effective against.
“The virus is going to be around and therefore, we may need to vaccinate with repeat vaccinations,” Monto said. “Handle it the way flu is being handled and at the same time we will be able to update for the variants.”
But what about children? Vaccine trials are underway in older children, but a vaccine likely won’t be authorized until the fall at the earliest for those 12+.
Vaccines for younger children could take until 2022. We still aren’t sure what will happen when most adults are protected but children remain at risk.
Experts do believe things will feel a little more normal by summer, although we will likely still be wearing masks around others in public places.
Watch the video above for the full report.