Why COVID-19 May Be the Last Pandemic
Since the novel coronavirus first showed up in America in January 2020, the U.S. government has routinely impeded scientists, public health officials, and citizens from coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, the surgeon general admonished Americans for buying masks. As late as last August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was downplaying broad-based testing among asymptomatic people. It wasn’t until this April—more than a year into the pandemic—that the agency finally acknowledged what had become clear only a few months in: COVID-19 is rarely spread by surface contact. It’s primarily an airborne disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stood in the way as independent labs worked to quickly develop COVID-19 tests that would allow individuals to know if they were infected and should self-quarantine, and it wasn’t until this spring that the agency finally approved an at-home test you could get without a prescription. The FDA also temporarily pulled Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine from the U.S. market because one out of every 1.13 million recipients developed blood clots. Those are the same odds of being struck by lightning.
The one clear policy victory—Operation Warp Speed, which promised payments to developers of coronavirus vaccines—was based on biomedical innovations such as “messenger RNA” vaccines—that were already underway before the novel coronavirus appeared. “The horrors of the last year have spurred humanity to quickly develop an unprecedentedly flexible and powerful toolkit that may well make COVID-19 the last true pandemic,” writes Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey in the May cover story for the magazine.
“The amazing thing is that we’ll be able to forestall any further pandemics in the future because so many great advancements in vaccine treatments…have come out of that,” he tells Reason TV. “Now you can just slip any piece of genetic information into that lipid and now you have a vaccine.”
Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were produced far faster than any expert expected. Yet almost all of the time that it took to bring the vaccines to market
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