Zeynep Tufecki has an excellent piece [maybe paywalled?] out entitled “The Crisis of Authority and the Crisis of Expertise: Age of Misinformation and Defending (Imperfect) Institutions Under (Often Bad Faith) Attack“; she was – and has continued to be – consistently out ahead of almost all of us on key issues with respect to the pandemic and our responses to it.
She emphasizes how frustrating it is that the remarkable achievement that is these safe, effective, approved vaccines is being widely discounted or even rejected. On a similar note, I continue to be frustrated that our national (and New York State and City) vaccine rollouts continue to exclusively be characterized as “troubled,” as if the US hadn’t administered ~1/3 of all COVID-19 vaccinations to date globally. The daily average for this week will likely exceed one million doses nationally, and NYS and NYC have both now vaccinated more than 5% of their populations. These are almost unimaginable success stories by any historical standard, or even just based on expectations (including my own) from as recently as the fall, and while we should absolutely be demanding rapid improvements in the rollout(s) – especially given that such public-pressure-driven iteration is a strength of our democracy – it would be nice to also maintain a certain sense of humility and gratitude.
In the meanwhile, there continue to be reasons for grave concern about the risk of immune escape by new SARS-CoV-2 variants, though nothing definite is known in this regard as yet so far as I can tell. If we avoid the grim escape scenario, the pandemic will be effectively over in a few months in the US, largely owing to the remarkable achievement that is these vaccines. This doesn’t mean that we might not subsequently discover that there are long-term health consequences associated with one or more of the vaccines (an eventuality that I see as pretty unlikely, based on the nature of these vaccine platforms), but we should at least strive to maintain perspective on just how incredible these scientific and technological accomplishments are.
Finally, speaking of science, here are two sobering articles on what we lose, collectively, when corporations/unfettered greed/capitalism/extractivism destroy biodiversity. The world and other beings around us are unimaginably beautiful in their own rights, but it turns out that they are also fundamental sources of knowledge (including about potential treatments for disease).