I still remember the feeling I had on December 13, 2020 — the date the first vaccines rolled out of the Pfizer facility in Michigan, destined for hospitals and vaccination centers in every state in the country. Typically reserved scientists described it as the “medical moonshot” we had all been waiting for: a powerful tool against the new virus that had paralyzed the world for almost a year. Those first doses shipped out across America were supposed to signal the next phase of this pandemic — and it felt as if the whole country could soon let out a collective sigh of relief.As I waited to get my first shot, I remember thinking how completely ordinary, and how completely extraordinary, it was all at the same time. Here was a snippet of messenger RNA from the virus, delicately wrapped in a little lipid envelope and delivered to each of our bodies via two shots, spaced a few weeks apart. This mRNA would prompt each of us to manufacture a little piece of the coronavirus (the spike protein) which would in turn prompt our immune system (our body’s defense mechanism) to create antibodies and other immune cells in response.
About 99.999% of fully vaccinated Americans have not had a deadly Covid-19 breakthrough case, CDC data showsWhile the vaccines seemed to be created within months, whereas they normally take years, the technology behind this vaccine was actually the culmination of a couple of decades of work by some of the most brilliant minds in science and medicine. It quickly became clear the vaccines worked extraordinarily well and have the potential to truly revolutionize medicine beyond this pandemic.I kept reflecting how this moment could be a turning point — the beginning of the end of the pandemic; light at the end of a very long, devastating tunnel.