One year ago today the first case of a “novel coronavirus” was diagnosed in the United States, not far from where I sit now. Someone who had traveled to Wu Han, China developed symptoms and was hospitalized in Everett, Washington. He survived and the state felt it had dodged a bullet until we realized the virus was circulating and spreading for weeks. None of us really knew what was to come. Within two months, we were shut down and life has never been the same.
Here we are 12 months later, starting to gain momentum for mass vaccinations. The development and approval of effective and safe vaccines is astonishing, but so are the number of deaths and the effect on the economy. We are lucky to have vaccines, I just wish the leadership had been better to help us avoid so many deaths.
Starting today we actually have leaders who recognize the devastation and want to help. Sadly, they are starting from scratch, as far as vaccine distribution goes. They are also starting at the beginning to fight the other pandemic of disinformation. President Biden is asking for everyone to mask up for 100 days. Masks will be required now in all federal buildings. COVID briefings with Dr. Fauci have begun again. We are re-engaging with the world through the World Health Organization. So much work to do now that could have been done months ago.
It will take some time to sort out the details and increase vaccine production and distribution. Each state will devise a program that works for its situation and likely will change as more vaccine is available. There will be more examples of public/private partnerships and working together to get the vaccine out. We will need that because clinics like mine don’t have the capacity or the numbers of vaccines to get everyone vaccinated. Patience will be needed and persistence in getting access. I think many of us had hoped that these details would have been ironed out already. Kind of shocking that they weren’t. To me, it feels like dereliction of duty. At least, we have people now who see the problem and are motivated to solve it! The number of vaccines given will start rising more and more but we are off to a slow start.
The slower vaccine rollout is bad timing due to the variants that are developing due to mutations. Viruses commonly make mutations and mistakes in their self-reproduction, because of how fast copies are made. When a mutation occurs that has a benefit, the variant can become the dominant strain, which is what is happening now with the B.1.1.7 strain. It is more infectious, which is tough because we are all tired and ready to be done with the physical distancing. But now more than ever we must stay the course and stay safe. The same measures work but need to revisited. The virus is airborne so social distancing outside is key. Consider upgrading your mask or double masking, or trying a KF94 mask which is almost as effective as an N95. Keep your risks to a minimum, especially if you live in a hard hit area. The important thing is to not lose focus while waiting just a bit longer for vaccines. Careful out there!
What a year this has been.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and stay sensible.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32845196/ KF94 masks