2 Very Different Views on the State of COVID

One sees the vaccine news as excellent, the other warns of a pandemic lasting years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2021 2:20 PM CST
Is the COVID News Bleak or Hopeful? Yes
Seniors wait in the recovery area after receiving the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at the Bronx River Community Center, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Each day seems to bring a mix of good and bad news on the coronavirus, and the big-picture assessments of where the US and the world stand are similarly wide-ranging. Two new entries on Monday illustrate that. The first is bleak, but we'll end with the far more hopeful one:

  • Things are rough: The opening line from a post by Sam Baker at Axios is a doozy: "Mutated versions of the coronavirus threaten to prolong the pandemic, perhaps for years—killing more people and deepening the global economic crisis in the process." Yes, the numbers from the "first pandemic" are starting to head in the right direction, but the emerging variants will take time to get under control. In the interim, their spread will likely be even worse than the first iteration and perhaps lead to yet more mutations, he writes. "We are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country,” says Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota and Biden transition adviser.

  • On the contrary: In the New York Times, David Leonhardt writes that the news is "excellent" and better than many realize. "All five vaccines with public results have eliminated Covid-19 deaths," and they've "drastically reduced hospitalizations." The key thing is that the vaccines prevent serious cases—that's what we need for normalcy—in "fantastic" fashion, a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania tells him. As for the new variants, the most concerning one is out of South Africa because vaccines appear to be less effective against it. However, "there is no evidence yet that it increases deaths among vaccinated people." Vaccines appear to provide some protection, and "some protection appears to be enough to turn this coronavirus into a fairly normal disease in the vast majority of cases."
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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