Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

An effective vaccine will be a huge breakthrough for society and the economy. It would also be a staggering scientific achievement.

Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic, who is also editor in chief of the journal Vaccine, described the vaccine “as nothing short of dizzying.”

“We were all prepared to see something like 50 to 70 percent efficacy, something like that. And to be in excess of 90 percent, 95 percent, puts it on par with the best vaccines that have ever been developed — and with apparent acceptable short-term safety. I think this is really going to have a profound effect on the field of vaccinology. I hate to overuse the word ‘paradigm-breaking,’ but it is, in many ways.”

To get back to normal more quickly, the most vulnerable should be vaccinated first.

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “The only certain way, given what we know about the vaccine now, to get society back to being able to function is to have this be a less-severe disease. And the way you do that is to make the people in whom it’s severe no longer vulnerable.”

The U.S. needs to re-establish trust in institutions because pandemics are here to stay.

Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist who studies the ways communities respond to disaster: “This is about trust, and trust building, and processes of reconciliation. And that takes time. And during that time, we can improve our messaging and involve trusted messengers. But what we’re talking about is re-establishing trust in institutions. We have to build processes for that, and strengthen the ones that are already there.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the vaccine drive in Britain.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: More than 30% of the earth’s mass (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Mike Ives, who used to write the Europe Briefing, will join our Express desk as a general assignment reporter in Seoul.

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