By Ben Killion
On December 8, 2020, the first coronavirus vaccine was administered to a woman in England named Margaret Keenan. Since then, the vaccine has been talked about extensively by multiple news organizations, though each seems to have a different view on the subject.
Unfortunately, with approximately every one in eighteen people testing positive for the virus in the U.S., and the number of cases climbing due to asymptomatic contagious people, the 100 million available vaccines, only enough to vaccinate 50 million due to the need for two doses, won’t be able to vaccinate the 328.2 million U.S. residents. The other vaccine, Moderna, only has 150 million vaccines coming by June. At our current rate of nearly 216,000 cases every day, we will have approximately 38.9 million more cases by June, and there still won’t be enough vaccines available to vaccinate every American, though these numbers are complicated by the fact that people under 16 can’t receive the vaccine anyway, and many anti-vaxxers will refuse to take it.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to slow or stop the spread of the virus. Other countries with smaller numbers of cases per thousand people tend to be remote tropical islands or countries with small populations, whereas more populated countries with busy airports or shipping ports tend to have larger case numbers per thousand people. This further shows that the virus spreads when people come into contact with other people because countries with fewer people tend to live farther away from each other.
In addition to the grim vaccine news, there are now reports of the virus mutating. Michaeleen Doucleff of NPR writes, “A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in England and raising international alarms. This new variant now accounts for more than 60% of the cases in London. And scientists say the variant is likely more contagious than previous versions of the virus.” Luckily, it is very likely that existing vaccines will work equally effectively on the new strain, and it will not complete vaccination efforts.
According to Merrit Kenedy of NPR, on December 23, “The Trump administration says it has reached a deal with Pfizer to buy an additional 100 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, effectively doubling the federal government’s supply from Pfizer.” With more vaccines, more people can be inoculated, however, this doesn’t mean a vaccinated person doesn’t need to wear a mask. With so little known about the coronavirus, there is a possibility that even when inoculated, you could still be contagious, as the virus could possibly survive on the mucous membranes of vaccinated people without causing illness in them. Also, the vaccine hasn’t been proven to be 100% effective, and therefore may not always work, and should therefore be treated not as a mask replacement, but as another countermeasure to the virus.
Inevitably, despite the vaccination, we won’t immediately be able to go back to life before 2020, but a vaccine is a major step forward, hopefully leaving everyone optimistic that we will soon return to our normal lives.