Doctor holding a needle.
Photo by Retha Ferguson via Pexels.

Within the last six months, COVID-19 has had a drastic impact upon the lives of Americans everywhere. With schools and businesses reopening and flu season just around the corner, the hope for a cure, or at least a vaccine, is only growing stronger. 

According to WebMD, a vaccine forces your body to create antibodies against a certain illness, usually created using a weakened or dead form of the germs. This immunity would not only increase chances of recovery, it could potentially save thousands of lives.  

The death toll in the United States alone reached about 195,000 as of Sept. 14, and Alabama makes up about 2,300 of those deaths.  

Our state has the fifth highest infection rate per capita according to a recent statistic on Statista.com, meaning that for every 100,000 people, 2,830 Alabamians contract COVID-19.  

Jefferson County in particular, has the highest infection rate of COVID-19 cases according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. This is not unlike other southern states like Georgia, and Arkansas, which saw a spike much later than their northern counterparts.  

With the recent reopening of schools, states nationwide are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in children. Many other countries reopened schools when the average number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people was 1.  

By contrast, the United States had no such regulations for reopening and had 40, 60 or 75 cases per 100,000 and infection rates higher than 5%, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommended against.  

According to the Washington Post, as of July 30, 338,982 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in children, and since there is no definitive way to track how many children get infected at school, this number has likely increased.  

As of Sept. 14, there are currently 170 candidate vaccines recognized by WHO being developed and tested by teams of researchers from all over the world, according to an article by The Guardian.  

Based upon information found on historyvaccines.org, the typical vaccine takes 10 to 15 years to undergo all the necessary stages to become a viable solution, but its estimated that a potential coronavirus vaccine will take only 12 to 18 months to develop before it becomes available to the public. 

Over 100 of the vaccine candidates are in the preclinical trials, where they are being tested on animals to see if it triggers an immune response. Twenty-nine are in phase one and have been given to a few people to determine whether it’s safe for humans and how their immune system will react. Eighteen are currently in phase two and have been given to hundreds of people so researchers can learn more about safety and dosage. Nine are in the third phase and have been given to thousands of people to confirm its safety, side effects and effectiveness.  

The trials in the third phase involve the addition of a placebo. All these numbers show promise, although the WHO doesn’t believe an effective vaccine will be possible until mid 2021.