The COVID-19 pandemic has not only sickened and killed hundreds of thousands of people in America, but it has also had a significant impact on everyone’s daily lives and has had a profound impact on American businesses.

Today, American’s are eschewing seeing family, eating at restaurants, and traveling. They’re educating their children at home, working remotely – if possible – and following public health recommendations and guidelines to limit their exposure and keep everyone safe.

With Americans changing their behaviors and staying home to avoid contracting and passing on COVID-19, businesses are hurting. Hospitality companies – such as restaurants and hotels – entertainment companies – such as movie theaters and amusement parks – travel companies and airlines, and even retailers have all been impacted. And there are reports that some of the businesses that closed early on in the pandemic may not reopen, including an estimated 60 percent of restaurants.

“The pandemic has disrupted our day to day life. Seniors are locked out of their senior care facilities and kids can’t go to school,” Dr. Dong Shen, the founder, and CEO of RNAimmune, told attendees at a recent online discussion hosted by ACG National Capital and Greenberg Traurig, LLP. “We have more than seven million cases and more than 200,000 deaths. This is a once in a century or once in a lifetime event.”

Unfortunately, many experts agree that life will not be able to return to normal until more Americans have immunity to the virus. And that means that normalcy most likely relies on the development and distribution of an effective vaccine – a process that Dr. Shen and many more in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry are working hard to bring to fruition.

Dr. Shen appeared at the ACG September Monthly Meeting entitled, “The Science Behind the Vaccine,” which focused on the vaccine development process and what is necessary to make a viable vaccine available to American citizens. And he was very optimistic that an effective COVID-19 vaccine could be just around the corner.

“Hundreds of vaccine candidates are being developed by small companies working around the clock – using their own funding because the virus is the enemy,” he explained. “For this vaccine, I am confident that we will have it available within one year of the start of the pandemic – in the first or second quarter of 2021.”

He was confident that a vaccine will be available within that incredibly short and – frankly – record-breaking timeline because, “COVID is the top priority,” for both pharmaceutical companies and the government, and that because multiple important processes necessary for development and distribution are being done, “in tandem.”

However, until the vaccine is approved and distributed for all willing Americans to take, Dr. Shen advises all Americans to, “…keep social distancing and keep wearing your mask,” as that’s the, “easy and efficient way to reduce viral load and keep the transmission of the disease to a minimum even before the vaccine is available.”

To watch the entire online discussion with Dr. Shen, click “play” on the video below: