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Covid Routed

When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.

One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

This quote is from an article in the Atlantic written by Zeynep Tufekci, contributing writer at The Atlantic. It is in my opinion, the best article written that summarizes the problems we have had over the past year in dealing with the pandemic. Please read it here.

A colleague tells me that “its not what we say, its how we say it.” Practically every paragraph tells a part of the story and is quotable. Here is one of the best:

Part of the problem with the vaccines was the timing—the trials concluded immediately after the U.S. election, and their results got overshadowed in the weeks of political turmoil. The first, modest headline announcing the Pfizer-BioNTech results in The New York Times was a single column, “Vaccine Is Over 90% Effective, Pfizer’s Early Data Says,” below a banner headline spanning the page: “BIDEN CALLS FOR UNITED FRONT AS VIRUS RAGES.” That was both understandable—the nation was weary—and a loss for the public.

I would that that the Old Gray Lady would get beyond “If it bleeds it leads” but I guess not. How much damage do the layout editors and headline writers in newspapers do to the national psyche? It is incalculable.

Tufekci goes on to quote doctor after doctor, scholar after scholar, health official after health official and their inconsistencies, daily flip flops, and problems in communications that led us to where we are today.

Unfortunately this is a problem that cannot be unwound quickly. We have had a year of it, and to overcome it, we must reach inward and trust our own thoughts and common sense. Look out the window, believe your eyes and lead your life.

I can’t say it strongly enough, read this article in the Atlantic. I finish this with here last paragraph:

Hope will get us through this. And one day soon, you’ll be able to hop off the subway on your way to a concert, pick up a newspaper, and find the triumphant headline: “COVID Routed!”

JVH

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