As Thanksgiving wraps up in the US, Americans may find something that brings little gratitude: even more Covid-19. 2020 has been a historic year around the world, but especially for the US. In the middle of one of the most widespread pandemics in history, the US has also undergone mass protests due to racial tensions and also experienced one of the most turbulent election periods in its history, with the greatest voter turnout ever.
It’s extremely understandable that anyone would be worn out after this year and want to see family and friends again. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has been quietly growing the entire time. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , warns that people travelling to and from Thanksgiving festivities will only contribute to “surge upon surge” of Covid-19 cases. As of Sunday, there are now over four million detected cases of Covid-19 in the US and the numbers are only expected to continue to rise.
The tragedy of Thanksgiving is that it means that travel restrictions will have to be put into place, or even tightened, for Christmas, as Covid-19 is still spreading rampantly in the US population. This is even more unfortunate as Dr Fauci states “vaccines are really right on the horizon.” Were cases lower, it might be possible to quickly bring an end to the pandemic with targeted vaccine usage. However, since Covid-19 cases are so widespread, this means that vaccines will need to be just as widespread as well, and this will put a strain on the vaccine manufacturing companies like Pfizer to keep up with the demand.
Although the vaccines may be in late stages for trials, it is unclear to what extent companies like Pfizer and Moderna are ready for the gigantic vaccine efforts they will need to put out.
According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus sheet, there are currently over 60 million official cases of Covid-19 worldwide right now, with possibly several million more undetected. To start from producing zero vaccines to trying to vaccinate the entire world population would be a herculean task. Even if the companies choose to target those most at risk, such as healthcare workers and the elderly, they would need to supply millions of vaccines. This, when compounded with the transportation issues of one of the vaccines needing to be cooled by liquid nitrogen to -80°C, means that the first thrust of vaccination efforts will probably be aimed at urban areas in highly developed countries.
For the rest of us, we may still be stuck in isolation for a while to come.