Speaking at the CoreNet Global North America Virtual Summit this week, Joshua Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, predicted that a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers and those at high risk could be delivered by the end of the year.

He further estimated that massive amounts of the vaccine could be available by spring or summer of 2021. 

“We’re at a pace far ahead of what people thought was possible,” he said. 

But he cautioned that there are several phases to the process. The first involves getting data from the clinical trials still underway  and the marketing authorization, or permission to move forward and make the product available. He noted that trial results are not yet available and that regulators will have to take a systemic look to ensure that any vaccine is safe. 

And in the meantime, he noted that keeping people who are infectious out of the workplace is job one. 

“Masks work,” he said.   But for cities to truly reemerge, he said, employers and the public sector will need to communicate with each other about local rates of infection. 

“There’s a lot that companies can do, but it is the environment of the city that is going to reflect safety,” he said, “the most important number is the amount of transmission in a community.”