The greatest accomplishment of 2020, created at the tail end of it, has easily been the COVID-19 vaccine. On 12/14/2020, COVID-19 vaccines were first given out to the public, with 2.1 million people getting vaccinated at time of writing. Joe Biden is promising to do 100 million doses in 100 days — which is unlikely, but possible.
As of right now, the biggest controversy has been over who it is we give it to. The most infamous example right now has been the call to give to black populations first. Far as I can tell, these claims originate among an interview Melinda Gates gave in Time on 6/4/2020. When asked who should get it after healthcare workers, Gates said:
In the U.S., that would be black people next, quite honestly, and many other people of color. They are having disproportionate effects from COVID-19. From there, people with underlying health conditions, and then people who are older. Those are the ones who all need it first. We also need to think about essential workers who are keeping our grocery stores open for us so we can buy food, or who are making sure that food moves through the warehouses.
This makes perfect sense, considering Black Americans are dying at twice the rate of White Americans. For that matter, unlike other at risk groups (such as the elderly) they are much less likely to be isolated and are much more likely to work in felids that are considered essential at this moment. Black Americans are also the most likely of any racial group to live in urban areas, meaning that if one of them gets sick they are more likely to spread it to others than someone who lives in a suburban or rural area. Basically, this a much more complicated conversation than most people realize, and goes beyond giving it to Black Americans for the typical liberal reasons of “historical injustices.”
As of writing this, the vast majority of inoculations have gone to people working in healthcare. However, even giving it to those groups has been rather hard, with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine saying on 12/30/2020 that 60% of nursing home workers in his state have refused the vaccine when offered.
With that said, some Governors are taking worse charge than others. Florida Governor (and clear 2024 Presidential hopeful) Ron DeSantis is focusing his efforts on the elderly. This has also been a common talking point among Republicans, that the first doses should go to the elderly and anyone saying otherwise is a (in the words of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard) faceless CDC bureaucrat.
However, those “faceless CDC bureaucrats” have a good reason to give it to young, healthy people who are out in public often first. In truth, you want to get rid of it in people most likely to spread it so those with autoimmune issues have a sterile environment to recover in. We randomly seem to have gotten this idea that vaccines are a magical shield with no negative consequences, when the reality is much more complicated. People with immune deficiencies are actually the worst people to get a vaccine —a vaccine is largely a diluted version of the illness, meaning that someone who’s immunocompromised could easily have a reaction similar to that of actually getting it.
To be honest, I find the most annoying part regarding the vaccine rollout how many people are adopting utterly contradictory arguments. For example, the vaccine rollout is currently too slow, at least, according to the people who thought a vaccine in less than a year was impossible. Rich politicians such as AOC and Marco Rubio getting the vaccine is also an issue, as they’re getting it before those who truly need it, according to the people who thought it was rather suspicious that the CEO of Pfizer was not getting the vaccination specifically for this reason.
With that said, there are some reasonable concerns about the slow rollout, especially regarding the possibility that the vaccine could expire. Ryan Grim tweeted the following on 12/30/2020:
Governors are being WAY too precious about who gets this vaccine and we’re going to end up with millions of doses of expired vaccines if states don’t get serious about getting this out the door. These numbers are dangerously bad.
However, no part of the vaccination is particularly rare, meaning even if a large amount of doses expire, more could be created rather easily. Of course, we do not have unlimited material, but pretending like even a large amount of doses expiring would be some massive issue is nonsense.
With that said, there’s one last thing I should talk about. Early in the month, a different strain of COVID-19 was found in the United Kingdom, which is more contagious than the current strain going around. As of writing, the strain has also been found in a few states such as California. Some are worried the vaccine will not work against this strain, and as such it’s unlikely we’ll have the “return to normal” we were promised for 2021.
Well, I looked into this back in late April, and Healthline wrote the following on the subject:
The virus mutations, like what’s going around in Italy and also New York, don’t seem to be any more infectious or fatal than the original strain that appeared in Wuhan, China, in late December.
Though there’s the very rare chance a virus could mutate to be more aggressive, if anything, RNA viruses are more likely to mutate into a weaker version.
Basically, no reason to worry, 2021 is going to be a good year.