This week I received my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE almost one year to the day from the shutting down of our country for 15 days to slow the spread of COVID-19. What makes this so utterly amazing is we were told it would not be until late 2021, or sometime into 2022 before we would have a vaccine for this particular strain of Coronavirus. What the experts failed to realize at that time was both Pfizer and Moderna actually had a vaccine developed.
The Chinese equivalent of our CDC released the genetic sequence of Covid-19 on January 10, 2020, so researchers could start working on a vaccine. The Pfizer group as well as Moderna both used new messenger RNA technology in their research that doesn’t even require specimens of the virus. There has never been a vaccine approved with this technology until the two Covid-19 vaccines in 2020. This technology does not use any of the live virus, just a genetic code that lets our cells know how to identify and fight the virus (a very simplified explanation).
Thanks to operation WARP Speed, both vaccines were quickly approved for expedited human trials and ultimately approved for emergency use in December 2020 by the FDA. It’s difficult to say it only took 10 shorts months to develop these vaccines when the entire world was in some stage of lockdown during this period. To put this into perspective, it took 4 years to develop the mumps vaccine in the late ‘60’s which was the fastest development of a vaccine prior to last year.
What makes all of this so exciting is similar technologies are being used in cancer research and other medical technologies. There is research into vaccines for allergies, autoimmune disorders, as well as addictions. As fast as technology is changing every part of our lives, these new medical technologies offer the most excitement as we see possibilities of treating ailments that cause so much human suffering.
Dr. Marty Makary, a Surgeon and Professor of Public Health Policy at John Hopkins University, said in a February 18th WSJ Op/Ed piece that he believes we will reach heard immunity in the US by the end of April, or early May. They estimate two-thirds of Americans have been exposed to Covid-19 and have some level of immunity. This along with now vaccinating almost 2 million people per day, should soon get us there. Let’s hope he is correct and we can get back to living our lives to the fullest once again.
Brett S. Carleton