This time of year is marked by many celebrations of light. Advent, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Diwali among others all have symbolic lights associated with them. I want to add another celebration of light—one pertinent (I hope) only to the year 2020.
I believe that there is light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel and that is a reason to celebrate this year!
Over the last 8 months we have learned so much – so much more than we ever imagined we could and perhaps even more than we wanted to learn. We have learned that we are battling an invisible and insidious foe. We have learned that the virus is airborne and that wearing a mask really does make a difference. We now know that small things mean a lot, whether that is making that extra call to someone living alone or choosing to stay home from a tailgate party out of respect for others’ health.
But most importantly there is more science about this disease. We understand more and our understanding is based on hard research. We have learned that the most obvious differentiator of this virus is a loss of smell and taste. We know that it is airborne and hence, being outside or inside with excellent ventilation makes a difference.
Science is also responsible for new more accurate and faster testing, new treatments and yes, what appear to be highly effective vaccines. The preliminary results last week from Pfizer and this week from Moderna were far more promising than expected with effectiveness rates that far exceed the annual flu vaccines. Both are using mRNA to encourage the body to produce immunity to the virus – the first vaccines to do so. Pfizer and Moderna are two of 11 vaccines in late stages of development globally. And since the first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed exactly a year ago yesterday, the scientific effort coupled with the support of the global community has produced a vaccine in less than a year – far quicker than ever done before.
This gives us hope. And while distribution of the vaccine to all Americans won’t happen immediately, essential health care workers (our team members) and our residents (older adults with chronic illness living in congregate settings) are prioritized for early vaccination. What does this mean? The end this time may really be within sight.