The Absolutely True, Incredibly Amazing Story of the Covid-19 Vaccine
As a reporter specializing in vaccines, I knew it was possible — but never thought it would happen quite like this
Tomorrow, it will have been exactly one year since the first Moderna trial began for the groundbreaking mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. Having covered vaccines as a journalist for a decade, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that less than a year later, I would have two doses of that vaccine in my arm, that it would reduce my risk of catching the coronavirus by 95%, that it would eliminate my risk of death from the disease despite multiple risk factors, and that the worst I’d suffer for it would be a sore arm for a week or so. As a journalist, I’m not supposed to gush over the topics I cover, and I’ve faithfully reported on facts about Covid-19 vaccines without doing so. I’ve been cautious and balanced about what people need to know about their safety and effectiveness and what they do and don’t mean about what we can do while the pandemic rages on.
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But a year after that trial began, I have to take a moment and step out of that role to appreciate how incredible the story of these vaccines really is. That whole month of March, and especially that week, was a blur for all of us, as much in Texas (where I live) as anywhere else. SXSW had been canceled 10 days earlier for the first time in its 34-year history. The governor declared a statewide emergency March 13. The first Texan died of Covid one year ago today. The governor would issue the first executive order closing down schools and some businesses four days later. Every other state had done or was doing the same.
And in the midst of all this — long before the full horror of the pandemic would reveal itself — the first U.S. vaccine trial began, the same day that the last U.S. state (Vermont) issued its state of emergency.
Had I not been a reporter specializing in vaccines, I might easily have missed the news. Instead, I was…