Updated: Oct 18, 2021
It has been nine months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. On Dec. 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that global cases passed 63 million, and the death toll has reached nearly 1.5 million. While many countries have successfully been able to halt the spread of the virus, many others have not been as fortunate – especially the United States.
From March – when the virus was announced as a global pandemic – to mid-July, the U.S. reported steady increases in cases, with multiple rapid spikes during that period. While cases decreased from July till October, colder weather combined with mass ignorance of COVID-19 guidelines led the U.S. to announce an all-time single-day high case total of 205,600 on Nov. 27. So far, the U.S. is responsible for around 20% of all coronavirus cases and deaths worldwide. The extent of the situation in the U.S. is so severe that in November, the U.S. reported more cases than most countries had all year.
That being said, the U.S. has not been the only country to report an influx of cases recently. The United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Russia all announced their highest number of coronavirus cases during November.
Meanwhile, other countries, such as Japan, have been more vigilant in stopping the spread. On Nov. 2, Japan – despite being home to the 11th largest population in the world – reported fewer than 500 cases. Overall, Japan’s daily number of cases has yet to rise over 2600. To the west of Japan, South Korea has achieved even lower numbers. During November, the country maintained a relatively steady average of around 250 daily cases.
For countries that have been struggling to contain the virus, things could soon turn around as the reality of successful vaccines inches closer. In late November, competing pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer both announced successful testing stages, with the two vaccines reaching close to a 95 percent effectiveness rate. Since the conclusion of Phase 3 testing, both companies have sought emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
On Dec. 3, Moderna announced that it expects to have around 100 million to 125 million doses available in early 2021 – most of which are made for the American public. By the end of 2021, Moderna hopes to make around 500 million to a billion doses of the vaccine to be readily available for the global market. Moderna reported that their first shipment was ready on Dec. 22, with Pfizer one week ahead of that timeline. Although the first doses have been administered primarily to health care workers and senior citizens, it could be months before the general public actually has access to them. Still, the vaccines are promising enough to expect that they can significantly alter the way of life in 2021.
Through Teen Lenses: What do you think needs to be done this winter to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus. Also, how do you feel about the possibility of an upcoming vaccine coming out?
I don’t think the vaccine will come out to the American public for some time, but I think that people need to stay home unless it is essential. My mom is getting the vaccine in two weeks due to medical reasons but I think that it’s going to take time to come to the public, and even when it does, it is going to be very hectic. Bottom line, I believe that people need to do whatever possible to social distance appropriately.
Jay Bhanot, 16, Junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School, North Potomac, Maryland
“I think people have to keep social distancing and wearing masks when necessary to curb coronavirus cases this winter. Also, I’m hopeful that the vaccine will work and we’ll be back to normal next year, but that’s only if people continue to social distance.”
Ben Li, 16, Junior at Thomas.S Wootton High School, North Potomac, Maryland “In order to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus, I believe that we must continue to keep our distance from one another and always use masks in order to decrease the chances of contracting the virus. The cases have started to rise and in order to keep our communities safe, we need to follow the required guidelines. My thoughts on the possible vaccine are that it must be distributed to the most vulnerable first such as seniors and younger children.”
Cansu Moral, 16, Junior at Thomas.S Wootton High School, North Potomac, Maryland