“The pandemic will not be vanquished anywhere until it is vanquished everywhere,” The Times editorial board writes. “Several known coronavirus variants are making their way around the world, and epidemiologists know more will evolve so long as the virus continues to spread, potentially challenging the efficacy of existing vaccines.”
The board praises President Biden for pledging $4 billion to the Covax program, the World Health Organization’s initiative to deliver at least 1.3 billion shots to 92 low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021. But Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., has stressed the need to go further by waiving intellectual property rights to the vaccines so that other countries can afford and manufacture them, much as patent exceptions were made for H.I.V. drugs in the early 2000s.
The proposal, which the World Trade Organization is debating this week, has faced staunch opposition from the United States and Europe, but House lawmakers and advocacy groups are now turning up the pressure on Mr. Biden to support it.
What is ‘back to normal,’ anyway?
The coronavirus is probably not going to be eradicated, as Nicky Phillips explains in Nature. About nine in 10 scientists she surveyed predict it will instead become endemic, meaning that it will continue to circulate at reduced levels indefinitely, hopefully causing less severe symptoms over time.
So how exactly will we know when the American outbreak is “over”? In The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal proposes the “flu test”: 100 Covid-19 deaths or fewer a day, which is about the number of Americans who die every day from the flu.
“Right now, the country as a whole is still reporting close to 2,000 deaths a day, and just two weeks ago that number was more than 3,000,” he wrote last week. “So, if we’re going by the flu test, we still have a very long way to go.”
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