Image: (Unsplash/Mateusz Glogowski)

When will social distancing end in Australia? It’s the question at the back of all of our minds. 

Social distancing, in some shape or form, is likely to be in place until a vaccine is produced to protect people against coronavirus, which spreads easily when the world is business as usual. 

Once a vaccine is produced, lockdowns and social distancing are likely to lift further. Currently, experts are saying that it may take 12-18 months for a COVID-19 vaccine to be produced and made readily available to the public.  

Generally speaking, vaccines may take years to develop; researchers and scientists across the world are currently working to pack years of trial and error into just a few months. 

As it stands, there are around 80 clinical trials taking place around the globe to produce a coronavirus vaccine. Here are just a sample:

  1. Australian scientists have begun testing two types of vaccines on ferrets. It is believed ferrets may contract coronavirus in the same way humans do. The results of this clinical trial are likely to be available by mid-June
  2. In the UK, 1,102 people have been recruited to trial a vaccine that was developed in just three months by Oxford University. This is the first human trial in Europe, and the team behind the vaccine say they could produce one million doses, pending the data they garner from the experiment
  3. In the US, vaccine trials run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have presented with positive results. For example, the first eight people who took part in the safety trials have begun to produce neutralising antibodies in response to the vaccine. 

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s three-stage roadmap to recovery will offer us insight into when some things will start to go back to ‘normal’, it is unlikely we will experience a true normal until there is a vaccine to protect against coronavirus. 

The second wave of the Spanish flu in 1918 is enough of a warning to remain cautious as lockdown measures slowly begin to lift. And until a vaccine is widely available, there is no evidence to suggest there will not be a second wave of coronavirus in Australia and further afield. 

When will social distancing end? The real question is, when will there be a coronavirus vaccine? Until that day comes, sit tight and stay home, unless it’s essential. 

Read: How long before a vaccine is ready?