(WTVM) - Starting in 1948, Dr. Jonas Salk began researching a vaccine for the crippling disease of polio. It took seven long years, until April of 1955, for his vaccine to prove successful and become almost universally accepted.
Flash forward to 2020, a year many of us would rather forget except for the incredible speed with which a vaccine for COVID-19 was developed and manufactured: just 10 months.
By any measure, that effort, called Operation Warp Speed, delivered.
It is an extraordinary accomplishment for government, business and the military who broke down barriers to find a trustworthy vaccine faster than experts thought possible.
So much of the COVID challenge we are experiencing this year has been reported from a pessimistic point of view: the shutdowns, the unemployment, the mask mandates, the sometimes false-negative or false-positive tests and, lately, a truly scary surge in hospitalizations and increased deaths.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to focus, even if just for a minute, on the extremely optimistic news about the development and manufacturing of an effective COVID vaccine.
First, government, which usually excels in bogging down any normal process in layers of bureaucracy, was freed to find fast and safe solutions to the pandemic.
Second, deals were cut last summer by the Trump administration to financially back multiple vaccine-makers, so competition might help an effective vaccine come about more quickly than the usual four to five year timeline.
Third, the military and its expertise in logistics was a big player in the very detailed plan to get the vaccine distributed as soon as the FDA gave it’s go ahead.
Some of the 250 American clinical trials for a COVID vaccine were held right here.
The story of how an effective vaccine was created, tested and manufactured in record time is simply not told as often as it should be.
That story is vitally important because health experts need Americans to be informed and to get vaccinated in large numbers.
A vaccine and a variety of new treatments, also discovered in record time, are the best ways to knock down this intimidating and dangerous virus.