I've been worrying a lot lately, of how, when the world failed to make the wise choice and do volunteer challenge trials, we lost the chance to make sure the vaccines work exceptionally well.

When they're approved, they'll work OK. The threshold in the United States is that they need to reduce the risk of infection by 50%. That change isn't all that much. It's small compared to wearing a mask. It's small compared to meeting people outdoors only. It's small compared to being far apart. It's small compared to being quiet when you talk, even.

The vaccine will likely do better than 50% reduction in risk. But it's hard to verify large effect sizes when studies are done this way. They knew, when they made the decision. But they decided to do this anyway.

So we won't know how helpful vaccines are, not for a long time. And we won't know any long-term side-effects, not for a long time. Some people will choose to get a vaccine. Many won't.

Public health policy has been ruining the country for months, and we ought to start measuring that length of time in years.