History of Coronavirus: How Will It End?

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What will it take to arrest the progress of COVID-19 that has already killed 1.6 million people worldwide?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, people have been wondering that very question.

The Good News

Make no mistake; the U.S. authorization of these initial vaccination candidates is good news. Indeed, it is the best news on the COVID-19 front this year, at a time when the U.K. is experiencing a third wave of infections.

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Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first person in the U.K. to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Yellow fever vaccination was developed by Max Theiler, who received a Nobel Prize for his work. Research began in 1918, but Theiler did not release the first safe and effective vaccination until 1937… 19 years later.
  • The Great Influenza of 1918 prompted scientists to look for a vaccine. They began in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1945, over a decade later, that the first vaccine was approved in the U.S. for use. But rapid mutations require scientists to tweak the vaccine each year.
  • Polio vaccination research began in the first few decades of the 20th century, but a vaccine was not attempted until 1935. However, it yielded poor results. It was not until 1953 that Jonas Salk developed an effective vaccine, and in 1956 Albin Sabin developed another.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination was developed in 1965, but it took another 12 years for the FDA to approve the first commercially available vaccination.

I did not describe how all of the half-dozen major historical pandemics ended.

That’s because most of them did not end. Some of them mutated, changing to less-lethal versions. But others came back: some a couple of years later, others a couple of decades later, still others centuries later.

  • HIV is endemic in many parts of Africa.
  • Malaria is endemic in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Hepatitis B is endemic throughout the world.
  • Common Cold (influenza) is endemic in America.

Nevertheless, there is cause for excitement with the release of COVID-19 vaccinations.

When Jonas Salk developed the first Polio vaccine in the 1950s, all of America was excited. I remembered standing in line to receive it. Polio had touched the lives of people I knew. The disease had killed over 1,300 Americans (a large percentage were children) and crippled more than 18,000 in 1954 alone. Within a year of vaccination, polio deaths were cut in half.

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President Eisenhower honors Jonas Salk at the White House

So, what is the next step with COVID-19 vaccines?

The clinical trial portion of the Moderna drug development tested 30 thousand people. Now vaccinations will need to scale to the U.S. population of 330 million.

What are our COVID-19 vaccination options?

Here are the vaccine candidates:

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  • Moderna-BioNTech — just approved by the FDA.
  • AstraZeneca-Oxford — tested in the UK, with unclear results.
  • Johnson & Johnson — perhaps months away, but requiring only one dose and no refrigeration.
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What are the major milestones we must pass to arrest COVID-19?

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US COVID-19 Deaths
  1. Doctor offices: they have expertise in administering vaccinations, but don’t yet know when they’ll get doses.
  2. Pharmacies: flu and shingles shots have been administered by pharmacies for years; they know how to deliver vaccinations, but don’t yet know when they’ll get doses.

What can we learn from the Spanish Flu of 1918?

Ironically, so-called anti-vax sentiment, based on either partisan or ideological reasons, is similar to the ani-mask sentiment we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. During the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak, there were similar anti-mask disputes, reactions, and protests.

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“Mask Slackers” arrested, San Francisco
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U.S. Second wave of Spanish Flu, November 1918
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Anti-Mask Meeting, San Francisco
  • Does immunity mean you cannot transmit the disease and infect others?
  • Is one vaccine better than another? Will Moderna’s provide different results than Pfizer’s?
  • How difficult will it be to counterfeit a certification? Will there be a black market for fake certifications?
  • Will one country recognize the certifications of another country?

Are we ready for the next global pandemic?

There will be one, that we know from our examination of the History of Pandemics. Will we remember the lessons we learned from this one? Did we remember the lessons from the Spanish Flu?

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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