Creator is exactly Sarah Zhang
2020-11-18With the development of two viable COVID-19 vaccines, it appears that the end of the pandemic appears to be at hand in the near future. In an article for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, journalist Sarah Zhang explains how these viable vaccines were developed using new technologies and how the resolution of the pandemic is now more dependent on policy choices made by political leaders, namely the President of the United States. During the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals, epidemiologists, and vaccinologists were in the dark about the symptoms, treatability, and curability of the disease. After months of intense hands-on experience and in-depth genomic research, the companies Pfizer and Moderna have developed viable vaccine candidates. But these vaccines are different from typical vaccines: they are mRNA vaccines. This means that they work by injecting mRNA which encodes viral proteins, rather than injecting a weakened or dead SARS-CoV-2 virus. mRNA vaccines, according to Zhang, were once thought to be potentially unviable, but the positive preliminary results of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines may mark the beginning of a new era of vaccine research and development. In the future, Zhang says, mRNA vaccines may be developed for the Zika virus or for personalized forms of cancer. However, a major drawback of mRNA vaccines is their fragility, as they require extremely cold temperatures to be preserved. Now that these vaccines may be available for public use in the near future, it is up to the United States' political leadership to formulate policies to promote the vaccination of the populace and the mitigation of COVID-19 infections during the winter. According to Zhang, "Every infection we prevent now—through masking and social distancing—is an infection that can, eventually, be prevented forever through vaccines."
2020-10-30Aside from “flattening the curve” of infections, the longer one avoids contracting COVID-19 also ensures that one will have a higher survival rate. This observation was made by Sarah Zhang, a journalist writing for the Atlantic Monthly who has published several articles concerning the pandemic. In this particular article, Zhang briefly summarizes the reasons why it is better for one to get infected later than sooner, supporting each point with peer-reviewed research and statistical data. According to Zhang, one of the most important reasons why it is better to get infected later than earlier is that medical treatments of COVID-19 have been gradually improving since the pandemic began. For instance, ventilators were initially prescribed for most COVID-19 patients, but they were eventually reserved for extreme cases. Other, less invasive oxygen therapies have been prescribed for milder cases. Similarly, new drugs such as Dexamethasone have been prescribed to more patients as medical knowledge about COVID-19 gradually increased. These innovations are reflected in the slightly reduced death toll. However, Zhang reminds readers that despite these improvements in medical treatments, COVID-19 still has several confounding aspects. Furthermore, several experimental treatments and vaccines are still in testing phases, and will not be viable until well into 2021.
2020-09-28As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its one year anniversary, many are hoping that a vaccine will soon become available at their local pharmacy, clinic, or hospital. Unfortunately, this is very unlikely to be the case, as several problems will inhibit vaccine distribution . In an article for The Atlantic Monthly that was published on September 28, 2020, journalist Sarah Zhang provides readers with a comprehensive overview of the logistical problems associated with manufacturing prospective COVID-19 vaccines and distributing them across the United States. Zhang begins the article by noting that while some vaccine candidates have progressed very far in clinical trials, the ones that have are also the most difficult to distribute and deploy in the field. This is due to a variety of reasons, the most prominent being the method used to manufacture the vaccine (i.e mRNA encoding), which is a new, experimental method used to manufacture vaccines rapidly. While this technology has sped up vaccine production, it has come at the expense of convenience, as the prospective vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech require specialized storage containers to maintain the dosage vials at extremely cold temperatures (-94 Fahrenheit). According to Zhang, this need for extreme refrigeration presents a logistical bottleneck for the distribution and deployment of prospective vaccines. Indeed, according to Zhang, federal, state, and local health departments are making plans for what will most likely be the most ambitious logistical operation in medical history. Logistical problems will be further compounded by issues concerning the lack of preservatives in some vaccines (to speed up production) and the difficulty of delivering dosages to rural areas relative to urban cities. Furthermore, incomplete electronic medical registries in some local areas will make it difficult for health officials to know who exactly needs the vaccine and who should be prioritized when they first become available. In sum, the rapid production methods used by some prospective COVID-19 vaccines will make them more difficult to distribute and deploy in the field. The need to store some in extremely cold temperatures will raise the costs of transportation and make it extremely difficult to deliver dosages to people living in hard to reach areas of the United States. Furthermore, the incomplete electronic medical registries of some local areas will make it more difficult to know if patients are taking the appropriate number of vaccine doses, which are needed to be completely effective. To paraphrase Zhang, these issues will make the first COVID-19 vaccines to be released to be insignificant, as they will not be widely distributed.