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SS Future Re-Open Plan: Timing, Testing Needs??!!


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33 minutes ago, worldtraveller99 said:

Randyk47 I agree! Or fly either, as that seems to bring the virus back too. At least in the USA you have different places to visit, which aren't full to the brim with crowds - which is all we have in England sadly.


Sorry to hear your options are so limited.   When I was at the now closed Upper Heyford Air Force Base we lived off the base in a small village and it was marvelous.  I will say while we indeed have a lot of places to visit it also depends a bit on where you live.   For instance my son lives in San Francisco in a high rise apartment building other than walking his and his girl friend’s dogs there isn’t much to do.  The popular places are closed, crowd limited, or too jam packed with people.   I think he said hasn’t been outside of a two mile radius of his apartment since March.  This is my international traveler son who would surprise me with calls from London, Barcelona, Rome, Dubai, or some other distant destination.   

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51 minutes ago, worldtraveller99 said:

Randyk47 I agree! Or fly either, as that seems to bring the virus back too. At least in the USA you have different places to visit, which aren't full to the brim with crowds - which is all we have in England sadly.

 

From Randy, worldtraveller99, chrism23 and cruisinbanjo, these are excellent comments and follow-ups.  YES, many challenges and limitations currently.  Personally, we would rather have smaller, private tours.  Ideally, just the two of us or maybe only four people and our guide.  Understand why during these early, start-up cruises that they are seeking to have more control as to where ship passengers go and what they are doing.  BUT, whether it is "worth it" with all of these limits and rules is another in a long list of serious questions as to how and when "normal" cruising and travel can resume.  

 

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday, they had this headline: “Sweden Shouldn’t Be America’s Pandemic Model” with these highlights in a column by a former FDA Commissioner who is heading up a scientific panel hired by two of the major cruise lines to help the process for gaining an OK by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/CDC for cruising to resume.  

 

Here are some of his comments in this column: “It’s important to protect the old and the vulnerable, who are at the highest risk of severe illness and bad outcomes. But like most issues of medicine, it isn’t a binary choice. Given the uncertainties of how this virus spreads and its high risk of infirmities, it would be unwise to abandon efforts to limit Covid spread wherever possible. While age appears to be the strongest predictor of death and severe disease, other risks like diabetes and obesity correlate with bad outcomes. About 10% of Americans have diabetes, and 40% are considered obese.  There’s growing evidence that the virus can damage the heart and cause dangerous autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, including in children.  Covid spreads too easily to think it can be confined to the young. The summer epidemics in Sunbelt states initially affected mainly a younger cohort and then seeped into an older population.

 

In my view, this column by this experienced expert makes clear that this "challenge" is a much, much higher "mountain to climb" than what some might realize and/or wish.  Much of this M.D.'s argument is against trying to do a Swedish model of "herd immunity".   Understand that point.  BUT, certain of his comments will be played back to him as the CDC consider if, when and how to lift their prohibition of cruise ships sailing in and from U.S. waters.  He concluded his column with these comments: "Confronting a dangerous pandemic requires containing spread wherever it is reasonably possible. Sensible measures such as universal masking, testing and widespread and rapid contact tracing can help. The best way to protect the vulnerable is to try to protect everyone."

 

To the cruise lines and medical/government expert, how do you "protect everyone" and still open up to allow and encourage crowded airline flights to get on cruise ships where many older and vulnerable passengers are mixed in somewhat tightly with a wide range of people from all over the world?  

 

It seems challenging to BOTH . . . "protect" . . . AND . . . allow this much close proximity of passengers, staff and people in the various ports and on the ships.  

 

Full story at:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sweden-shouldnt-be-americas-pandemic-model-11598822005?mod=hp_opin_pos_3

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

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From the Wall Street Journal this morning, they had this headline: “Key to Preventing Covid-19 Indoors: Ventilation with this sub-head: "Reopening schools and businesses should upgrade air systems, open windows and take other measures to ensure clean air, scientists say" 

 

Here are some of the story highlights: “Add this to the Covid-19 prevention toolbox: strong ventilation.  After urging steps like hand washing, masking and social distancing, researchers say proper ventilation indoors should join the list of necessary measures. Health scientists and mechanical engineers have started issuing recommendations to schools and businesses that wish to reopen for how often indoor air needs to be replaced, as well as guidelines for the fans, filters and other equipment needed to meet the goals. 'We didn’t focus on it enough initially,' said Abraar Karan, a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who treated Covid-19 patients. 'We told everyone to stay home. We weren’t thinking about people congregating in public spaces.'  The precise role that airborne transmission plays is still being debated by parts of the scientific community. Yet proponents of aerosol transmission say the evidence so far argues for the need to keep clean air flowing in indoor spaces where people gather.”  

 

For cruise ships seeking to resume operations, will these questions regarding ventilation be added to the important "check-list" for health/government officials and consumers to consider carefully before re-opening and doing future booking??  For older ships with less sophisticated HVAC systems, there might need to be some modifications made to maximize safety and customer confidence.  This is especially true for those who are older and/or with any types of lung/breathing challenges.  

 

From MSN news and an expert travel writer this morning, they had this headline: First to go were airline cancellation fees, next should be hotel resort fees” with these highlights: “In the airline world, fees have become big business. There are checked bag fees, carry-on bag fees, seat assignment fees, fees to print boarding passes, fees to talk to a person and even fees that provide no tangible benefit or service to customers.  There are also change fees, cancellation fees and the complete forfeiture of certain basic economy tickets that don’t allow changes or refunds. But this week, we saw the airline industry take a big step in the right direction when United announced it was getting rid of change fees. These fees have always been a way for airlines to increase ancillary revenue. In addition to paying any difference in between your existing and new ticket, a change fee seemed particularly punitive.”

 

These extra fees are both a pain and costly.  Hopefully this is a good sign that cruises, too, will narrow down certain of these extra costs.  Silversea is pretty good in limiting these add-on costs.  BUT, travelers are tired of the "tricks" and additional "surprise" costs.  

 

 Full stories at:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/key-to-preventing-covid-19-indoors-ventilation-11598953607?mod=hp_lead_pos5

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tips/the-critical-points-first-to-go-were-airline-cancellation-fees-next-should-be-hotel-resort-fees/ar-BB18ApJb

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

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On 8/27/2020 at 10:28 AM, Lois R said:

Terry, I love the smaller ships too. But back then? My family did not cruise for vacation.  Who knew about cruising?

Not us LOL.... and this was a gift from my folks to us......they treated us all to this trip......that was a BIG splurge.

And that was 28 years ago!  Jacksonville is 2 hours from Pt. Canaveral and we took a bus from here to the ship.

I think it was like "cruise connections" or something like that.   I do remember we had a really good time

though.......I think the cabins were teeney......and for some reason I remember the food was pretty good.  And my

Mom? Well, she had a blast.......she sang in the passenger talent show and they had some kind of game that was

like a horse race (not with a horse LOL).......and she was in it........the memories we have of some things are quite

funny sometimes.🙂

Love this post!  Mrs Banjo and I started cruising in 1990 on the Island Pacific, (the Love Boat), 690 pax as I remember, that hooked us on smaller ships.  Our cabin was smaller than the walk in closet on SS ships, I think, LOL,   The largest ship we have sailed on was Zuiderdam, 1,900 pax.  We did not care for that, but we were with friends on a music cruise, so all was good.  We first sailed on SS when the Wind and Cloud were brand new, and on Regent when they were Raddison.  I love seeing the world this way.  It is really sad to watch what is happening and like all others on this board, we are hoping to get back to cruising in early 2021.  Keeping fingers crossed!

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On 8/31/2020 at 11:51 AM, Stumblefoot said:


Yes, lots of skiing is planned this winter, so we’ll be chasing snow between CO, UT, ID, and CA.  And, with our travel trailer we’ll probably try and chase some warmth this winter too.  There is talk of pulling it across country for a visit to Florida at some point.

No skiing for me, I’m 2 years off from a knee replacement, (and I never want to do that again).  But Mrs Banjo and I are thinking of pulling the travel trailer to FL in January if things look reasonable.  If that works out well, we are talking about a spring Trailer trip to the National Parks, Yellowstone, Teton, Grand Canyon, Zion, etc..... hopefully before the summer crowds move in.

 

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1 hour ago, crusinbanjo said:

Love this post!  Mrs Banjo and I started cruising in 1990 on the Island Pacific, (the Love Boat), 690 pax as I remember, that hooked us on smaller ships.  Our cabin was smaller than the walk in closet on SS ships, I think, LOL,   The largest ship we have sailed on was Zuiderdam, 1,900 pax.  We did not care for that, but we were with friends on a music cruise, so all was good.  We first sailed on SS when the Wind and Cloud were brand new, and on Regent when they were Raddison.  I love seeing the world this way.  It is really sad to watch what is happening and like all others on this board, we are hoping to get back to cruising in early 2021.  Keeping fingers crossed!

I sailed on Zuiderdam back in 2005 (I think). It was the only cruise on HAL I ever took.

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On 8/31/2020 at 11:20 AM, TLCOhio said:

In mid-September, we are doing a driving trip over to Philadelphia for an outdoor wedding, plus some other sight-seeing in that historic area with great museums and excellent dining.  Any good tips and suggestions from those in the Philadelphia area??

 

Terry, Philadelphia has been proud to become a true foodie city, with many lauded chefs and great restaurants at every level and featuring every cuisine. It's hard to mention just a few without some more info. Are you looking for fine dining or casual? Any particular cuisine types? Where in the city or environs will you be staying?

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12 hours ago, cruiseej said:

Terry, Philadelphia has been proud to become a true foodie city, with many lauded chefs and great restaurants at every level and featuring every cuisine. It's hard to mention just a few without some more info. Are you looking for fine dining or casual? Any particular cuisine types? Where in the city or environs will you be staying?

 

Appreciate this great follow-up by cruiseej from Philadelphia.  We are going to be staying around and the outdoor wedding will in the Langhorne/Southampton/Newtown areas of Bucks County that is north of Philadelphia.  We hope on Friday before the Saturday wedding to go into the central city to visit the Barnes Museum.  Have not yet seen their collection and new building.  For food, we like somewhere between fine and casual.  Not too fancy or arty!  Italian and/or seafood are always great.  Overall, "local", unique, tasty, "interesting", etc., are high for our priority wish list.  Comfort food is always nice.  Does this help?  look forward to any and all suggestions!

 

From MSN news and experienced travel writer Gene Sloan this morning, they had this headline: “Has MSC Cruises cracked the code for a safe return of cruising? with these highlights: “Just a few months ago, with COVID-19 raging, it seemed like the shutdown of cruising might go on forever — or at least until the world had developed widespread immunity.  But in recent weeks, something big has happened that has raised the possibility that cruising might be able to come back. One of the world’s biggest cruise ships, the 4,842-passenger MSC Grandiosa, has resumed sailing, stopping at ports in Italy and Malta, without recording a single case of COVID-19 on board.  'It’s working, and our protocol is doing what it’s meant to do,' one of the top MSC Cruises executives in North America, Ken Muskat. In what is turning into something of a test case for the entire cruise industry, MSC Grandiosa resumed operations on Aug. 16 out of the port of Genoa, Italy, with two big innovations: A requirement that all passengers test negative for COVID-19 in the moments before boarding, and a rule that passengers can only leave the ship in ports when on a cruise-line organized shore excursion.  The supervised tours, which are taking place in such ports as Naples and Palermo, Italy, are carefully designed for social distancing and led by guides who have tested negative for the illness. Buses used for the tours are regularly sanitized.  'We’ve created sort of this bubble,' said Muskat.  The idea, he suggested, was to give the new coronavirus no way to sneak on board.  MSC Cruises also has set aside cabins on MSC Grandiosa to isolate any passengers or crew who become ill, and arranged with port towns and their hospitals to take in such passengers and crew.”

 

Also, there was this key item from this reporting: "A top Royal Caribbean Group executive also recently said that the company’s multiple brands were likely to test all incoming passengers for COVID-19, too."

 

Full story at:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/has-msc-cruises-cracked-the-code-for-a-safe-return-of-cruising/ar-BB18DDtg

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

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Accurate and  fast testing is indeed a primary requisite for cruising to prosper, however the incubation issue will likely prevent any meaningful restart.

There is probably a statistical numbers game happening atm , where very short cruises produce only an occasional traveller who becomes symptomatic during the cruise.  

How many are actually boarding negative , incubating , spreading and escaping at cruise end without being "caught" ?

It took quite a while before all the Hurtigruten infections were testing positive.

 

Leads to a very damning reinforcement of the petri dish model as researchers eventually catch up with the shifty marketing.

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4 hours ago, Silver Spectre said:

Thanks for the info Terry. My question will be ‘test negative for Covid - how?’, and at what sort of turnaround.

 

Now that the inexpensive antigen test from Abbott is going to become widely available, it may provide the answer the cruise lines need. It delivers results in 15 minutes, requires no special lab equipment, and the cost is about $5 per test. The antigen test isn't quite as accurate as the PCR tests by the big labs, but they're easy to administer, won't require expensive onboard labs and technicians, and won't add thousands of dollars to the cost of a cruise (even if passengers must be tested every day or every other day). It may take awhile to expand production to the hundreds of millions which the world -- and cruise lines -- will require, but it seems like a step forward that may solve the dilemma. 

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6 hours ago, TLCOhio said:

We are going to be staying around and the outdoor wedding will in the Langhorne/Southampton/Newtown areas of Bucks County that is north of Philadelphia.  We hope on Friday before the Saturday wedding to go into the central city to visit the Barnes Museum.  Have not yet seen their collection and new building.  For food, we like somewhere between fine and casual.  Not too fancy or arty!  Italian and/or seafood are always great.  Overall, "local", unique, tasty, "interesting", etc., are high for our priority wish list.  Comfort food is always nice.  Does this help?  look forward to any and all suggestions!

 

Wow, Terry, you're going to be in our corner of the world! 😉 We live in Langhorne, near Newtown. We'd be happy to meet you, but you likely have a busy stay planned.

 

The Barnes is definitely a must-see for Philadelphia. Make sure you check into tickets as soon as possible, as it can be difficult on weekends in normal times, and capacity is currently limited. 

 

Restaurants in the city are just re-opening for limited indoor dining as of September 8, so there's a lot of pent-up demand. Not all restaurants have re-opened yet; some that have outdoor seating have been open for a while. 

 

In the area near the Barnes, I'd recommend a small restaurant called A Mano. If you like pasta, this is a little on the pricey side, but well worth it. 

 

In the suburbs, restaurants have been open since July, so there's much to choose from, although we've only been going to restaurants with outdoor dining. If you want a nice higher-end meal -- good food, but not in any way snooty or pretentious, there's a country inn called the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farms that's about a 15-minute drive (nice countryside drive) north of Newtown which is one of our favorites. One thing to know about some restaurants in the Philly area is that they are BYOB -- because liquor licenses are expensive in the byzantine way the state regulates alcohol sales. For us locally, this is excellent, because we can bring our own wines without paying expensive markups; if you're visiting and are going to a BYO restaurant, be sure to stop at a local wine shop before you go. Another longtime favorite of ours in that part of Bucks Country is the Inn at Phillips Mill, a charming inn from the 18th century; they were closed for a long time, and I'm not sure if they've reopened. If you want something right in Newtown, our favorite local Italian restaurant is Vecchia Osteria; they have indoor an outdoor dining. (It's another BYOB; do you catch the trend?)

 

We've got other recommendations we could share, but I don't want to fill the list with this off-topic conversation; feel free to drop me an email at jacobsedj at gmail dot com if you want to continue the discussion offline. 😉 

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10 hours ago, cruiseej said:

 

Now that the inexpensive antigen test from Abbott is going to become widely available, 

I don't want to rain on the parade but so far the rapid Abbot test has proven to be only 74% accurate.  The margin of error for me at any rate is just too great.  Also as TGH said above the incubation period is still a great unknown.  So, even if an Abbot testing device was on board every ship in the SS fleet, I don't think of it as a problem solver.  On the positive side of this, I do remain extremely optimistic, and I have said this before, that a rapid, near instant saliva based test will be developed by someone.  Think of a pregnancy test.  Something that is 99%+ accurate.  That however still leaves the question of the incubation period unresolved.  A work around might that passengers and crew would be tested daily, and anyone testing positive would be quarantined and isolated.  Even with this there are too many variables.  Again its the incubation period that drives this.  At what point, how quickly, is an infected person able to pass the infection on to another.  For example, if the infected person has a high viral load and can infect others, let's use an extreme, 8 hours after being infected, and a saliva test only works on a viral load, 48 hours after infection, this solution doesn't work either.  This all leaves me thinking the only way the cruise industry can reopen is for all passengers and crew to be vaccinated, with a proven vaccine that is 99% effective, within X months of sailing.  A vaccination certificate would have to be presented before boarding a ship.  I want to be optimistic here to and say this is possible, but not for quite awhile.  There is no way I would feel safe with the Russian vaccine that has been announced or with a US vaccine that is "warped speed" before the election.  I would wait for the science and the Tony Fauci, who I totally trust, seal of approval on a vaccine.  The problem is that any single vaccine may only be as effective as current flu vaccines which are perhaps 60% effective at best.  We may have to wait even longer, for a combination of vaccines to achieve a 99% immunity result.  This all hurts my head trying to think through.  

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I am so sick of staying at home. We are here still afraid of public transport that though the shops, restaurants and art galleries of central London have reopened no-one is brave enough to bother to go to them, so businesses there are really suffering.  And anyone in the performing industries has had no real income all year.  And all my holidays have been cancelled as BA doesn't seem to be flying anywhere, and no-one wants to be under house arrest for 14 days quarantine, so travel businesses are closing too.  So do I feel lucky punk to go on a cruise?

 

PS I agree that like flu COVID vaccine will probably need annual jabs - perhaps they can be combined? And thousands of people die of flu each year but the world doesn't stop - why not?

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2 hours ago, worldtraveller99 said:

And thousands of people die of flu each year but the world doesn't stop - why not?


It’s a matter of numbers and it’s significant.  In 2019, 2020 statistics not available yet since the year isn’t over,  flu deaths in the US were 34,000 but as of today 190,000 have died of Covid-19 in the US.    And Covid-19 related deaths are not in lieu of flu deaths so whatever that number turns out to be for 2020 would be in addition to the Covid-19 numbers.    

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8 minutes ago, worldtraveller99 said:

Oh! Thank you! I guess we wait for the vaccine then. 


We need safe, effective, and widely available vaccine or vaccines.  We need Covid-19 not to mutate to another deadly form.  We need effective treatments for the myriad of Covid-19 symptoms.  We need a lot before we get back to whatever we’ll call normal.

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@Randyk47  Thank you for mentioning mutations.  It is something I have been hesitant to do because I didn't want to scare people any more than they already are.  But your point is spot on.  Viruses are constantly mutating. Speaking as someone with a family member with COVID, the understanding of the disease, the complications that arise from it, are changing nearly every day.  My mother in law showed none of the recognized COVID symptoms, no breathing problems, no high temperature, nothing.  She fell one night broke her hip, she was admitted to the hospital where she tested positive for COVID.  As it turns out the fall was due to a stroke.  Strokes have emerged as one of the most widespread COVID complications.  This is what is hitting younger 18-30 year olds.  She has since tested positive for COVID for 6 weeks. During this time she had 17 mini-strokes.  She had her first negative text 2 days ago.  I write this not to scare people but to reinforce how complicated the disease is.  We all, together have to act responsibly to stop it.  That means masks, distancing the whole package.  If not there is no stopping it.    

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On 9/1/2020 at 6:35 AM, Randyk47 said:

For instance my son lives in San Francisco in a high rise apartment building other than walking his and his girl friend’s dogs there isn’t much to do.  The popular places are closed, crowd limited, or too jam packed with people. 

Tell him to go to La Mar in the Ferry Building.

 

https://www.lamarsf.com/

 

Incredible Peruvian food and drinks and the 'outdoor' area is mostly covered and quite sophisticated. I know he'll love it.

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1 hour ago, crusinbanjo said:

This could be encouraging news if it proves out.  Only time will tell of course, but couple this with a vaccine?  We can only hope I guess.

 

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2020/09/the_covid19_pandemic_is_ending.html

I like a good contrarian opinion but I think the folks in Spain might disagree with his conclusions. 

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1 hour ago, worldtraveller99 said:

Hope your mother in law is getting better chrism23?

 

WOW!!  This is a busy and very active thread.  Lots of posts, comments, sharing, etc.  Appreciate all of the follow-ups.  This posting is now over 30,450 views.  Glad that so many are interested and contributing!!  Agree with above in offering best wishes to chrism23 and for her mother.  

 

Will have more later for cruiseej as to your wonderfully-detailed tips and insights for the Philadelphia-area dining options, etc., etc.  Interesting about the slow re-opening for dining within the city of Philadelphia.  Plus, all of the BYOB background, etc.  Looking forward to being back in that historic and charming area.  BUT, we will be a little limited as to exactly what all we can do and where we go.  At our ages, we do not want to go acting like some of these young college students in doing too much "partying"!!??

 

As to the vaccine and other medical areas/questions, there are a wide variety of options, potentials, speculation, etc.  Clearly, we are still in the "EARLY DAYS" for battling Covid-19.  Much has been learned, but the more we know now, then we realize that there is still a large amount of uncertainty as to where the future leads.  There could be permutations and the types of test vary as to their accuracy, speed, convenience, timings, etc.  That is part of what makes it so very challenging and unclear for the cruise and travel industries to figure out their next, best and safest steps forward.  

 

As to the three major cruise companies, Wall Street and the stock market is saying "Thumbs Up!" to them this morning.  Even with the overall market down, Royal Caribbean is up more than 4%, with Carnival up nearly 5% and NCL up nearly 4%.  Hard to figure out and understand the "WHY" for this soaring confidence in cruise lines.  Maybe the stock pickers are betting and hoping that an effective vaccine is getting closer??

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

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Hi Chris, I also hope your Mother In-law is doing better.   As for what is known to help, those masks/social distancing......

I agree we all need to do those things.  Sadly, a lot of folks do not and as you said, no stopping it....or at least no stopping it for a long time to come if folks don't start to change their habits😮

 

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16 hours ago, chrism23 said:

This all leaves me thinking the only way the cruise industry can reopen is for all passengers and crew to be vaccinated, with a proven vaccine that is 99% effective

 

Very few vaccines are 99% effective, so this is unfortunately unlikely. The hope, though, is that even with a less-effective vaccine, if most people are vaccinated, then ongoing community spread is halted, and the odds are very low of (a) encountering someone with the disease and (b) having the vaccine in your body not work if you do.

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