In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. A series of missteps at the nation's top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.
In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. A series of missteps at the nation's top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.

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With some 17 vaccine candidates in human trials, according to a July 2 story by the Associated Press, is it reasonable to expect a safe, effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in a year or so?

In a March 25 Herald-News story, Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA, said each time a vaccine is created, experts gain more knowledge, which is applied to the next vaccine.

This may shorten the time required to decode a new virus and develop a vaccine for it, Ubl added.

Still, the immune system is “incredibly complex,” which makes it challenging to predict how each person’s immune system might respond to a vaccine, Ubl said in the story.

This is the reason for running large clinical trials before a vaccine is released, he said.

A May 2 story by the Pew Research Center said most people in the U.S. expect to see a vaccine within a year and that 72% of them would get vaccinated.

But that doesn't mean concerns don't exist on the grassroots level.

Omar Walker of Joliet, an emergency medical technician, thinks even 18 months is premature from a safety point of view. He said vaccines take years to develop and nothing’s gained by rushing the process.

Walker feels researchers should also be working hard to find appropriate treatments for the virus so people can quickly recover while they're working on developing a vaccine that’s “really going to work.”

“I think any vaccine can have side effects, and some side effects can be potentially deadly if you don’t do the proper testing and make sure you have all the available information,” Walker said. “You can’t do that in 18 months. That’s going to take time.”

Martin Peto of Joliet, who is immunocompromised due to kidney disease, agreed with Walker.

Peto said he’s done quite a bit of reading about the history of vaccine development and feels a safe, effective vaccine cannot be developed in a year and a half.

“We don’t even have an AIDS vaccine,” Peto said.

Peto, because he is at greater risk for severe illness if he catches the SARS-CoV-2 virus, would like to see treatments and vaccines as much as anyone else, he said.

But pinning hopes that science will quickly devise “an amazing cure” is just “wishful thinking,” he said.

He also feels take a slow, systemic approach will better prepare the world for future outbreaks.

“Everybody wants to get back to the pre-covid society,” Peto said. “But what’s going to happen with the next pandemic, or if this thing keeps going, or if we keep ignoring the health rules?”

Rita McGann of Joliet, however, can’t wait for a vaccine. Like Peto, McGann is immunocompromised and it’s “very scary to be around anyone,” she said

McGann said she recently went to Dollar General for the first time before Christmas. Otherwise, she stays home, McGann added.

The circle of people she allows near her is small. Her daughter works in banking, so she’s frequently interacting with the public, McGann said.

“We need to figure this out,” McGann said. “I’m very hopeful.”

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