Industry Update
External Article13 January 2021

Expect life to return to normal in 3 stages — not all at once.

Once you and your friends are vaccinated, can you quit social distancing?

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Now that the vaccines are arriving, people are starting to dream.


They say things like, "The second everyone in my family is vaccinated, we're going on a big trip to Asia!" or "As soon as my five closest friends and I get the shot, I'm spending a weekend at a cabin with them. No masks, no social distancing."

While many of us are thinking about the Covid-19 pandemic in binary terms — there's "life before I get the shot" and "life after I get the shot" — experts are cautioning us to think more gradually. Not everything will change the second that syringe enters your arm.

"Realistically, it's definitely not going to be an on/off switch on normal," said Eleanor Murray, a Boston University epidemiologist.

The best way to set realistic expectations around what life will look like in 2021 is to think of it in three stages. Stage 1 is what you can safely do once you and your close friends or family are vaccinated. Stage 2 is what you can safely do once your city or state has reached herd immunity, where enough people are protected against infection that the virus can't easily spark new outbreaks. Stage 3 is what you can do once herd immunity is reached internationally. (Note that there's a good chance we won't reach that last stage in 2021.)

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