The Latest: How we’ll know if a vaccine works

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
2 min readAug 14, 2020


Dear Reader,

There are currently over 150 experimental Covid-19 vaccines in development, and a handful recently entered the final stages of human testing, biotech writer Emily Mullin reports for the blog. But how will scientists know that a vaccine is working? Mullin outlines the process to come and what to expect.

An important question is whether people will get the vaccine once one is available. So far most Americans say yes, but since vaccine hesitancy is delicate in the U.S., there’s work to be done (see the discussion below).

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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What our team is talking about:

Our President needs a fact-check (and a reality check).

Earlier this week the White House released a brief on Monday titled “President Trump’s Historic Coronavirus Response Brief,” which outlines the supposed ways the president has successfully combated the novel coronavirus. My blog colleague Yasmin Tayag and I decided to take a close look, and realized there are many inaccuracies and over exaggerations. We went through each takeaway from the White House brief and fact-checked. 🔎 You can read that here.

98 long-lasting symptoms identified.

One characteristic of Covid-19 infections is that, in some cases, the symptoms can linger in people for a long time. Self-described “long haulers” have become a study group for scientists looking to better understand the disease. A new study, explained here, shows just how wide-ranging the symptoms are. Read more.

Most Americans will get the vaccine.

There’s been a lot of coverage of recent polls showing that 35% of Americans say they would not get the Covid-19 if it was approved and available today. Of course our team is worried about whether enough people will get a vaccine to have a protective impact on the population, but when it comes to messaging, it’s also important to focus on what the data really shows. The poll shows most Americans surveyed — 65% — will get a vaccine, and that’s awesome. There’s also an opportunity to educate people who might be hesitant about getting a new vaccine. Read more about that messaging here.

Here are some more smart reads:

What Ever Happened to Those Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps?

Hair Loss Reports Grow Among Covid-19 ‘Long Haul’ Survivors

Chronic Stress is an Underestimated Covid-19 Risk Factor

What It’s like to Go into Lockdown for the Second Time

The Contact Tracers Caring for America, Even If the Country Doesn’t Care (Inverse)

Cable Technicians Fear Getting Covid From Customers Who Refuse to Wear Masks (Bloomberg)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that