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June 25, 2020

Back on Day 56 I asked, “How long?” That was May 5. Fifty-two days ago. I’m not asking anymore. I’ve simply reset my clock for about 18 months. Instead of railing against the plans I made and the things I miss, I’ve decided to align my expectations with the timetable of the four influenza pandemics of the twentieth century. There’s no point in asking “are we there yet” 108 miles into a 540-mile journey.

Only about 400 miles to go — but look at the progress we’ve made since Day 1. The virus that was a total stranger last January is now a known quantity in many ways. We’ve mapped its genome. We’ve learned more about its contagion, symptoms, and complications. We’ve made progress on understanding prevention, finding treatments, and developing vaccines. The next few months will see advancements on all these fronts. It won’t be easy. We’ll continue to feel the bumps in the road, the swings of the economy, the sinkholes of politics. But we’ll be covering new ground.

And as we go we will see changes on both the technological and personal fronts. In terms of technology, there were some encouraging take-homes from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield in the Congressional hearings on Tuesday.

  • Treatments: Convalescent plasma (plasma containing antibodies from people who have recovered) seems to be a safe and effective treatment for people hospitalized with COVID-19. In addition to direct transfusions, it is now being used to develop hyperimmune globulin and monoclonal antibodies for more powerful and focused treatments. There are 131 clinical trials going on with therapies including anti-inflammatories and monoclonal antibodies.
  • Testing: The CDC is working with multiple manufacturers on developing a single combined test for influenza A & B and COVID to enable faster screening of patients during the upcoming flu season (approximately October -March).
  • Vaccines: Vaccine production is gaining speed by working on development and manufacture simultaneously. Fauci felt we might be looking at a safe effective vaccine by the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. How this will play out in terms of availability and distribution remains to be determined.

All these claims raise a lot of questions and I plan to look into them in more detail in future posts. In the meantime I expect reopenings to continue and people to expand their social bubbles. I know I’m hoping to see more of my family and friends in person this summer in between working on long-term projects like my memoirs, piano, and garden.

After all, 108 days ago when I started this pandemic journal I didn’t know it would last this long.

All we can do is keep going forward even when it doesn’t look good. Eventually our memories will be shaped by history’s narrative. In the meantime, roll down the window, breathe some fresh air, and take a little nap. Somewhere around November we’ll have lunch.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Who Would Be the First to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?” U.S. News and World Report, June 25, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-06-25/who-would-be-the-first-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccine

“Progress In Monoclonal Antibodies For The Treatment And Prevention-Of Covid-19,” Forbes, June 23, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2020/06/23/progress-in-monoclonal-antibodies-for-the-treatment-and-prevention-of-covid-19/#1ce1deee373b

“CDC develops test to simultaneously detect COVID-19, flu,” Modern Healthcare, June 5, 2020. https://www.modernhealthcare.com/law-regulation/cdc-develops-test-simultaneously-detect-covid-19-flu

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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