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Developing Covid-19 vaccines will decrease disease but are not designed to prevent infections

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Companies will need to be prepared for the new normal in terms of employee health.

Whereas much of society has the mindset that a vaccine later in the year will eliminate the need for lockdowns, quarantines, and distancing, scientists are now saying that the current vaccines in development are focused on decreasing Covid-19 disease but not infections. This concept means that these vaccines are mainly designed to stimulate antibodies to fight infections so that the severe symptoms or disease are less likely to develop.

The underlying implication of these goals is that employees will continue to get infected and may be contagious to others and spread the disease while having less chance of debilitating disease, hospitalizations, and risk of death. The vaccines will stimulate the production of antibodies to the virus which will then attack it when the host is infected. However, scientists have apparently seen in animal studies that the animals can still become infected but have less likely chance of severe pneumonia and other major symptoms.

Clearly, vaccines (and there are 130 in development) are not all the same and if any of them of are successful, society will see enormous benefits. Hospitals will not be overwhelmed and fear of acquiring the infection will not be as severe. However, as long as the possibility of infections will linger, precautions will have to be made to prevent from spread. Further hygiene precautions, distancing, and vigilance for infection will still be necessary.

Symptom monitoring will remain as important as before for the foreseeable future.

Companies will need to address how to treat employees who develop signs of infection and be prepared to give them home quarantine so they will not be dangerous to others even if they have been vaccinated. Data will need to be carefully studied to see if vulnerable populations can still develop life-threatening illnesses from Covid-19 even after individuals are vaccinated (the likely answer is that there will still be some deaths here but far less). Doctors will have to scrutinize whether the other horrific symptoms of Covid-19 such as strokes and kidney failure can still occur with the mild forms of the infection potentially prevalent in future vaccinated patients.

As vaccines eventually roll out, shutdowns will cease and more social interaction will ensue. The workplace and other aspects of society where individuals mingle and converse will still be the areas where infections can spread in the post-vaccinated world. Companies and organizations will be under even more pressure to do their part and identify and isolate those who develop infections.

A world where Covid-19 is not present in our daily thoughts is probably years away. Sorry.

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