Better Luck Next Pandemic

Will we do better next time? Not from what I can see now

It Isn’t Over

We in America are moving on — doffing our masks, crowding bars and offices, riding subways again. For those of us who are at least triple-vaxxed or who have survived a bout, the virus now is what Donald Trump and other denialists were claiming it was two years ago: roughly as threatening as the flu.

Deaths May Be Three Times the Official Toll

The “official” death toll of the virus is 6 million. The true toll, according to different epidemiological models, is probably between 16 and 20 million.

Vaccine Production Great, Distribution Not

Although most Americans are familiar only with Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, the world is actually using 36 different vaccines, 10 of which are W.H.O.-approved. China, India, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Canada, Taiwan and even Kazakhstan have one or more home-grown ones. Despite all the attention lavished on mRNA technology, the vaccine that has probably saved the most lives is the Oxford/AstraZeneca one, according to an analysis by the Economist. It is approved in 176 countries and made in both Europe and India.

‘Trust Cannot Be Surged’

Vaccines aren’t accepted unless there is trust, all the communications specialists agreed: trust in science, in political leaders, in the vaccine industry.

Data Can Be Surged

Another element of creating trust is data — especially big, fast data.

‘Don’t Say Mandate’

One issue I was surprised to not hear raised the entire week was vaccine mandates.

Ceding The Field

Another issue not even raised all week: countering the anti-vaccine movement.



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Donald G. McNeil Jr.

New York Times, 1976–2021. Last beat: lead Covid reporter. 2020 Chancellor Award; 2021 NYT team Pulitzer