Will vaccine mandates slow the pandemic? Yes, scientists say — but not immediately.

By Apoorva Mandavilli

President Biden’s new coronavirus vaccine mandates will have sweeping ramifications for businesses, schools and the political discourse in the United States. But for many scientists, the question is a simpler one: Will these measures turn back a surging pandemic?

The answer: Yes, in the longer term.

It has become clear that the nation cannot hope to end the pandemic with some 37 percent of Americans not having received a single dose of Covid vaccine, several experts said in interviews. Cases and hospitalizations are only expected to rise as Americans move indoors in homes, schools and offices in the cooling weather.

The administration’s new plan should stem the flood of infections and return the country to some semblance of normalcy over the longer term, the researchers said.

“It’s going to fundamentally shift the arc of the current surge,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health. “It’s exactly what’s needed at this moment.”

The vaccine mandates will protect millions more people, particularly against severe disease, and relieve pressure on the health care system, said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at Emory University. “It also sets a precedent for other organizations to make similar decisions” about mandates, she said.

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