Economics professor weighs in on how promise of COVID-19 vaccine could impact economy

Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 23:16:26-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Health leaders across the United States are optimistic a COVID-19 vaccine could be coming soon. In Utah, department of health leaders say they hope a vaccine will be available to all Utahns by July.

READ: Utahns can expect to get the COVID-19 vaccine by July

The news of a vaccine brings hope but won’t have a major impact on Utah’s economy immediately, University of Utah professor of economics Peter Philips said.

“Promises won’t change very much of today’s realities because there are many speedbumps between that promise and an actual implementation of a vaccine,” he said.

The economy will start seeing a positive impact when people start feeling comfortable again, Philips said.

“When people start feeling that being out in the world is not threatening their health, that is when the economy will start to be affected,” he said.

As COVID-19 cases in Utah continue to soar, the owner of BRG Burgers in Sugar House, Meili Myles, said people aren’t coming out. Business is down 40 to 50 percent compared to before the first shutdown.

“I remember right before the shutdown in March, the week before we were really packed and my manager actually called me and was like ‘Hey, I need help because we are too busy.’ So, I ran down here. And then the next week we were empty,” she said.

The news of a COVID-19 vaccine gives Myles hope, she said. If it comes soon, she thinks she will be able to hold on.

“I am very hopeful that people will feel safe again to come out and support the local businesses like ours,” she said.

Water Witch Bar owner Sean Neves echoed what Myles said, waiting eagerly for a COVID-19 to be approved and distributed.

“I think Salt Lake City has a lot of pent-up demand. I think the key is to get into a safe territory,” he said.

While having a COVID-19 vaccine will have a major impact, it’s not the only thing that needs to happen for the economy to bounce back, Philips said.

“We also need further government stimulus to give this bounce back more energy until it gets back to the point where it’s a self-sustaining bounce back,” he said.

For the latest COVID-19 information in Utah, click here.