Wearing a mask and social distancing are the “best weapon” to control the spread of the coronavirus, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said.

It’s not a silver bullet,” Bancel said of a vaccine, adding: “You see people going to crowded places with no mask or eating inside restaurants with no mask — I don’t understand it. It makes no sense to me. It’s like, you’re going to get infected. The only question is when.”

Moderna recently announced that its vaccine was found to be 94.5% effective at preventing coronavirus transmission in a late-stage trial with 30,000 participants. 

Though the study’s results haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the news was encouraging for the prospect of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it might take weeks to approve a vaccine for emergency use. And even after FDA approval, challenges in transporting and storing a vaccine could mean most Americans won’t get access to it until mid-2021. 

Bancel said in a recent interview that he expected people would likely have access to a vaccine by the summer.

As the US has set records for coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, public-health experts have emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and limiting social interaction outside your household.

 Since it’s unclear how contagious immunized people could be, experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said that wearing masks and staying physically distanced will be important even after receiving a vaccine.

Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also said because a vaccine still has not been approved, people must continue to wear masks and stay away from groups to control the virus’ spread.

“Wear a mask, social distance, handwashing, and ventilation — all of these public-health measures are still the major effective measures to be used to control the epidemic,” he said. Wu added that while a vaccine is “a good technical weapon for controlling the epidemic,” it won’t be able to help get it under control until at least the spring.

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