“It’s funny: when you asked this before, I was so optimistic that the US could guide and address this in time,” said Rachel Widome, associate professor at the University of Minnesota. “I told you I thought it would be better now. I was very wrong you are dramatically worse. “
Most scientists say that around 70 percent of the population must be immune for the United States to achieve herd immunity if the virus slows down or stops significantly. Herd immunity is critical to allowing people to safely resume many areas of life and the quickest and safest way to achieve this is through vaccination. Moncef Slaoui, director of the government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development program, said this week that vaccines may be rolled out fast enough for the United States to achieve herd immunity by early summer. However, scientists do not yet know if people who have been vaccinated can still spread the virus.
Almost a third of respondents said they would like to return to more activities of daily living after vaccination. Some said they would be comfortable doing certain things, like meeting people who had also been vaccinated. Some said they would wait until the country reached the herd immunity threshold and received a vaccine themselves.
“I would change some behaviors but not others,” said Gabriela Vazquez Benitez, a senior researcher at HealthPartners Institute, a nonprofit group. “I would do a few minimal trips, small indoor gatherings with other close relatives if I was vaccinated, but observe safety precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing.”
Since spring, 79 percent of epidemiologists have indicated that their assessment of various risks has changed and their behavior has adjusted accordingly. Science is a process, they said, and the virus is new, so even those who study it most carefully have learned something along the way.
Some said they were less concerned than last spring about socializing outdoors, touching surfaces, or sending young children to school. They were more concerned about indoor air transmission and the dangers of not wearing masks.
Around 8,000 epidemiologists were invited to take part in our survey, which was distributed by email to the members of the Society for Epidemiological Research and to individual scientists and was carried out from November 18 to December 2. Three quarters work in the academic field; A similar proportion is doing work that is at least partially related to the coronavirus.