The news has been relentlessly grim since last Easter. Any glimmers of light were quickly vanquished amid rising pandemic deaths, the social depression of distancing, racial violence, political discord, and even polar vortexes. With all we’ve suffered, who dares risk delight?
In a New York Times interview, noted sociologist and columnist Zeynep Tufekci attributed our current collective pessimism in part to the media’s and public health officials’ failure to sound the pandemic alarm early on. Ambiguous news from Wuhan, reiterated by the World Health Organization, intimated no human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus, despite evidence to the contrary. The inclination was to avoid overreacting so as not to incite panic. The lingering sting of that failure has fueled continued gloom and a more recent downplay of positive findings, whether in the decline of infection rates or the marvel of vaccine development.
Early predictions had any vaccine taking at least 12 to 18 months to emerge, with a modest goal of 50 percent efficacy against infection. Here at Lent’s end, we’ve achieved not one but as many as four vaccines, pushing 95 percent efficacy, an undertaking unprecedented in the history of medicine. This Easter dawns bearing much brighter light. Most churches won’t yet fully gather to worship, but the assuredness of vaccinations and eventual herd immunity mean coming back together is now an imaginable reality.
Rather than celebrating humanity’s remarkable accomplishment, however, Tufekci noted that the media and public health officials were wary of misinforming again. So they focused their reporting on the threat of variants, the need for continued mask wearing, and concerns about ...1
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