A COVID vaccine may be only 50% effective. Is that good enough?

“It’s possible that the [COVID-19] vaccine will reduce the severity of disease” in the other 50% who do get sick, says physician Bill Miller of The Ohio State University College of Public Health. “It may mean that people are less likely to be hospitalized, require ICU care or die.”

“That’s certainly the case with the influenza vaccine,” Miller adds. “People who get the vaccine may still get the flu, but, for the most part, their disease is milder than if they hadn’t had the vaccine.”

Michael Ison, an infectious disease physician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, echoes that sentiment. While it’s true that 50 out of 100 people who get the vaccine could still end up getting infected with the coronavirus, “hopefully, the majority will have milder disease,” Ison says. But he cautions there’s a lot to learn in that regard, given that the studies of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are still very much underway.