Even as the virus continues to spread through the US, over 2 million people have been given the first dose of a two-dose vaccine. However, President-Elect Joe Biden warns that if this slow pace of vaccination continues, it will take years, not months, to inoculate the American people. Biden noted this as much to temper expectations about the speed with which the pandemic will end as much as to pressure Congress to apportioning more money for the vaccine rollout.
After Biden’s remarks, the news that a more contagious strain of the virus was discovered in America broke. The strain, B.1.1.7, was first detected in Britain. This more virulent strain has an altered spike protein that makes it much more likely to spread, though researchers do not believe it is any more severe than the standard SARS-COV-2 virus. The first US case was detected in Colorado, and officials have worked to quarantine the patient.
In the US alone, over 330,000 people have died from COVID-19. Just Tuesday, Congressman-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA), who was only 41, passed away from COVID-19. Letlow’s passing leaves a question lingering for the Republican Party as they try to come to grips with the sudden loss of an elected representative as well as their responsibilities to their constituents.
As the virus continues to spread, Biden is adamant that he will implement a mask mandate on his first day in office. The president-elect has made COVID-19 a focal point of his policy for when he assumes office. Vaccine production and rollout will be a major factor in slowing the spread of the deadly illness, even as the new variant threatens to create another massive spike in cases.
Biden will be assuming office on January 20, and he’ll be doing so during a deadly race against a viral clock. As the more virulent strain of the virus threatens to intensify the pandemic, Biden has promised to invoke the Defense Production Act, which allows the government to compel private manufacturing to switch to creating government-approved materials. In this case, the federal government will be compelling pharmaceutical companies to begin creating doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The world faces a dire moment. As the virus threatens to become endemic, simply another grim part of life in the 21st Century, world governments are scrambling to contain it and stomp it out with new vaccines. It’s a race against time, even as some lawmakers drag their feet and too many Americans decry the virus as a hoax.