The next school year will be a lot closer to normal. At least that’s what it’s beginning to look like.
The federal government has cut a deal with drugmaker Pfizer for an additional 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine, bringing the total now to 200 million. That will vaccinate 100 million people, since the drug requires two doses to work.
The government is forking over $4 billion in the deal for both allotments, with the goal of providing a free vaccination to all Americans who want one. The government also has an option on another 400 million doses.
There’s also a vaccine by Moderna, a second drug company, that has been approved and is being distributed. It was developed in closer cooperation with scientists from the National Institutes of Health. Moderna’s vaccine, which also requires two doses, comes under the umbrella of the government’s effort, called Operation Warp Speed. That public-private endeavor was designed to have millions of vaccine doses ready and available to ship once a shot received FDA approval.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the latest deal can give people confidence “that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021.”
That’s just in time to allow us to think about a more normal fall, one where kids can go to school. Students can return to college campuses like the one in our town.
Health care workers and the elderly are the top priority, and those shots are already being administered. Once that population is protected, the need for behavior restriction will be substantially eased. And then once the vaccine gets broadly administered to the general public, most everything ought to be able to change. Schools should be able to operate more normally. Football games won’t be a health risk. People can look forward to Halloween parties without feeling ashamed. Homecoming dance? Sure, why not? Thanksgiving could see extended families gather around a table. Christmas? New Year’s parties?
Yes. Scientists supported to the hilt by government coordination and taxpayer funding are giving us a chance to get back to all that. At least that’s the way it looks right now.