On January 11th, 2020 - exactly a year ago today - Chinese scientists published the gene sequencing data for a Novel Coronavirus now known as Covid-19. At that time there was no obvious evidence of human to human spread as scientists around the world examined the data to determine its origin, how we can test for it, and characterize its behavior. In the days and weeks that followed Covid-19 proved highly contagious, transmitted mostly through respiratory droplets and deadly.
On December 8th 2020, the first effective vaccine was administered to a 91 year old grandmother in the UK. A span of 332 days! This is remarkable given that a typical vaccine can take up to 10 years to discover and involves many phases of experimentation and trials before proving effective and released to the public. To add some context, the Mumps vaccine took 4 years to develop and that does not include research performed during WW2.
I am in awe of this accomplishment for many reasons. While we are clearly still in danger as Covid-19 continues to infect millions globally, mask protocols and social distancing provide limited protection, and new Covid-19 strains are developing, an effective vaccine remains our best path towards a covid-19 free world. I am in awe of the scientists who worked to develop the vaccine and continue to conduct research into future infections. I am in awe of the front line medical workers who struggle everyday providing care to others while the vaccine can be deployed to everyone. I am in awe of every person who continues to live through this crisis and do what they can with courage, compassion and calm.
Today is January 11, 2021. What can I/you/we/us do in the next 332 days?