This is What the COVID-19 Vaccine Means for Disney and You!
Let’s face it. Coronavirus has wiped out 2020, making it the worst year any of us can ever recall.
However, recent events have indicated that 2021 will be when everything turns around for all of us.
A COVID-19 vaccine lurks just around the corner! Here’s what the vaccine means for Disney…and for you!
A New Hope
You’ve probably heard the most about a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which we are definitely going to discuss.
However, I want to start with the best possible news. This is NOT the only COVID-19 vaccine that’s nearing governmental approval/mass production.
In fact, the least heralded one comes from India, and it shows the fewest side effects for recipients.
That candidate began the third and final trial of human testing on November 19th. How close is it to mass production?
According to TribuneIndia:
“The Vice-Chancellor stated that if the test reports of the volunteers are found to be up to the mark by February or March 2021, the vaccine would be available in the market.”
This particular treatment won’t help the United States anytime soon.
India has earned its reputation as one of the most significant vaccine manufacturers on the planet.
The country supplies an astounding 60 percent of all such treatments in the developing world.
If/when this vaccine is ready, India will require 1.3 billion doses just for its own population.
I’m mentioning it here not as something that will impact you directly but instead as a sign.
The smartest vaccine makers in the world are all on the cusp of cracking COVID-19. That’s the reason why we should all share hope.
Even if the American candidates fall, India has nearly confirmed a treatment that we may license if all else fails.
The American Situation
The Big Pharma companies in the United States don’t want to rely on anybody else, though.
These businesses have spent the body of 2020 trying to discover the cure for this pandemic.
Two such entities have moved to the forefront in recent days.
Moderna has provided much entertainment recently for its pop culture ties.
I’ve mentioned here before that Dolly Parton qualifies for sainthood in East Tennessee, where she pays for people’s college educations.
She also stepped up and saved many people/businesses after the Great Smoky Mountain Fires. The FBI even honored her for her generosity.
Well, Ms. Parton has outdone herself this time. She contributed $1 million to assist Coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University.
Yes, this testing has led directly to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
As a friend recently joked, Dolly Parton qualifies as a virologist now. You can read the details here.
As the program participants indicate, Parton’s donation escalated the research speed of Moderna’s candidate.
I’m discussing this because Moderna is most likely to be the product that changes your life.
The company’s research suggests that its product approaches 95 percent effectiveness. What does that mean?
For 19 out of 20 patients who take this vaccine, they’ll never contract COVID-19.
The Math of Moderna
Frankly, this is a higher number than anyone had projected back in March. Most estimates fell in the range of 70 percent or so.
What’s the difference? A massive amount.
At 70 percent effectiveness, a vaccine would have prevented 8.3 million COVID-19 cases in the United States thus far (it’s November 18th when I type this.)
At 94 percent effectiveness, Moderna would have prevented 11.1 million cases. That would leave a total of 750,000 cases thus far.
Obviously, the vaccine couldn’t work like that. So, let’s approach it the other way.
Given its current rate of prevention, Moderna would keep nearly 310 million Americans from contracting COVID-19.
Also, perhaps even more importantly, Moderna would have prevented 240,000 American deaths thus far and would save millions more in the future.
Yes, this development should cause everyone reading this to feel excited.
What about Pfizer?
You’re hearing the most about Pfizer right now, and that’s by design. This company’s exceptional at marketing, and they’re rightfully proud.
Pfizer and a German company, BioNTech, have worked together on Coronavirus vaccine measures.
Their best candidate has proven more than 90 percent effective. Once again, that’s waaaaaaay higher than anybody had expected.
Pfizer tested 44,000 candidates, with only 94 (!) contracting COVID-19.
Remarkably, neither of the (mostly) American products comes with significant side effects, although the Indian vaccine includes the fewest.
Side effects represent the cost of doing business in Big Pharma. Any medication that you take includes some.
So, a Coronavirus vaccine would as well. There’s no reason to worry about that.
However, the Pfizer product does come with a secondary concern. This vaccine requires cold storage.
Scientists describe this candidate as fragile due to its needs. Medical facilities must store it in climates of -75 degrees Celsius.
For comparison, the most stringent cold storage medications right now require -25 degrees Celsius.
That’s the difference between slightly below zero Fahrenheit and -103 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finding appropriate storage venues could prove problematic. Also, some doses could spoil due to incorrect settings.
Pfizer’s vaccine also requires two different shots. You’d take the first one but then wait three weeks before the next. Moderna requires two shots as well.
Moderna also doesn’t come with the cold storage concerns of Pfizer’s product, a huge plus.
What’s Next and What Does This Mean?
The most important words right now are “mass production.” The existence of a vaccine doesn’t help anybody until it’s readily available.
Both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have indicated that their products could enter the marketplace by the end of 2020.
Each vaccine will require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That part seems like a formality, though.
The FDA had previously indicated that a candidate must surpass 50 percent effectiveness to receive approval. Both products easily clear that bar.
So, the next step involves mass production, getting enough vaccines out in the market to save lives.
The Washington Post explains the process here:
“Pfizer and BioNTech said they plan to submit an application for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration after the third week of November, when they will have two months of safety follow-up data on half of the participants in their trial, along with data on their manufacturing process.
The agency will hold an external advisory committee meeting, and review of the data could take a few weeks. The first doses of vaccine might be available in December.”
The critical takeaway comes from that last sentence. Some people are only a few weeks away from a COVID-19 vaccine!
Pfizer has suggested that it can distribute 50 million doses, enough for 25 million people, by the end of 2020.
Even if that timeline proves ambitious, the company expects to treat 650 million people next year.
Yes, that’s enough for the United States and Germany’s entire population plus tens of millions more.
Realistically, the distribution will work based on need, though.
When Will You Get a Vaccine?
I like the way that Moderna answers questions. Pfizer tends toward the business discussions, while Moderna focuses on realistic expectations.
For example, Moderna has leveled with people that they’re unlikely to receive a vaccine before next April.
Until then, recipients of the drug will fall into higher priority categories.
Healthcare officials, other essential workers, military members, and elderly/high-risk patients come first in line.
The other consideration involves state-by-state coordination, which…hasn’t been America’s strong suit in 2020.
Still, I’m an optimist and firmly believe that everyone will get it together to end the pandemic.
Moderna has indicated that it’ll have 20 million doses available soon, possibly the end of 2020. That’s 10 million people who receive the vaccine!
In 2021, the company projects one billion doses, enough to treat 500 million people.
So, between the two companies, that’s enough for nearly a quarter of the world’s population. And the production should escalate from there.
By the middle of 2022, Coronavirus may seem like a dream (well, nightmare) from the distant past.
About Disney and You
Not coincidentally, Disney stock surged after the initial Pfizer announcement.
Stocks remain volatile, which means this statement may look wrong by the time the article publishes.
However, as I type this, DIS stock has increased by $15 since early November.
The money people know that Disney theme parks will go back to business as usual as soon as a vaccine is readily available for all.
We should pay careful attention to the timeline that Moderna and Pfizer have suggested.
Based on their indications, many people should receive the vaccine by the summer of 2021.
Obviously, those plans can change, but that’s the current timeline. As such, you should feel good about your chances of getting the vaccine in 2021.
I suspect everyone’s eyeballing October 1st, the 50th-anniversary of Walt Disney World, as a vacation date.
Based on current information, most people who want the vaccine should have access to it by that point.
This isn’t a “we’re all hopeful” situation anymore. With three different manufacturers producing effective vaccines, we’re close to the finish line.
The pandemic appears nearly over, and we can all go back to spending all our free time at Disney.
I think it’s safe to start making plans for your next visit, and I wouldn’t say that unless I believed it.
My wife and I are keeping a trip early in 2021 that we’d toyed with canceling. We feel that good about the direction of the pandemic.
For cast members, this means that your jobs should return in a few months. And that’s extremely important, too. We’ve missed you.
Also, the availability of the vaccine hints that the reopening of Disneyland, and the return of fireworks should occur at some point in 2021, possibly soon-ish.