There Is a Light at the End of the Tunnel

So far scientists studying the coronavirus are doing as well and our leaders are doing poorly

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readJul 7, 2020


Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

I spent the last 24 hours with three scientists, all of whom have seen vaccine data, two of whom are former regulators, all of whom have opinions. My core question was: What is the world going to look like in three years? (But I asked other things as well.)

I’ll start with a slew of good news.

The vaccine data from Oxford (being run in Brazil) looks strong. No real safety issues so far. Gives people the antibodies. People are getting it post-Covid-19 and some will get it in a challenge trial.

What “works” means, and for how long, and for whom is less clear. But probably more like a flu vaccine (40%?) versus MMR (97%). There will be multiple vaccines after the first expected in the Fall. Each likely progressively better.

The monoclonal antibody therapy is also very exciting. Maybe even more so than a vaccine. If you get infected, it’s another way to confer immunity and prevent the infection from advancing.

Therapy trials are easier and quicker than vaccine trials. There’s frustration that some vaccine trials are moving too slowly and developers are not sharing data other than in press releases. That’s something people can advocate for.

Everyone — and I can’t emphasize this enough — was a huge proponent of masks. Efforts to invalidate masks were considered absurd.

The reason I mention these things is that the principal thing I learned is that the future will be defined by all of these things in combination: vaccines, therapies, masks, and other human interventions.

Mutations yes, but there wasn’t much concern that vaccines could keep up. Also, viruses become less deadly over time and there is cross-immunity and other potential.

T-cells are more important and less understood than antibodies.

What is the FDA's hurdle for approving an Emergency Use Authorization? Safety and a 50% or greater chance of improvement.

In six months or so, so far science is doing as well as our leaders are doing poorly.



Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Former Medicare, Medicaid & ACA head for Pres. Barack Obama.