Yes, the ultimate goal is to have a vaccine that keeps us from getting infected in the first place.
But in the meantime, infectious disease experts, like Dr. Fauci, say they’ll be pleased initially if a vaccine prevents the clinically recognizable disease. In other words, you get infected, but you develop zero or minimal symptoms and don’t get seriously ill. We see the same with the flu vaccine each year. It doesn’t prevent infection 100% of the time, but if you’ve been vaccinated and you get the flu, you’re less likely to get seriously ill.
If a vaccine can reduce the severity of coronavirus disease, it will reduce the threat of the pandemic. But Dr. Fauci’s point is also a reminder that even when a vaccine becomes available, we’re still going to need to wear masks, avoid large crowds, and social distance for some time to come.