Reading Nicholas Christakis’s book Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live (affiliate link), I ran across an interesting fact I had missed in the coverage of the Moderna COVID vaccine: it was developed in February 2020 — before many of us had even heard of the new coronavirus.
That testing has been accomplished this quickly is a miracle. But what if there had been some way to accelerate the testing? I’m not talking about stripping away currently necessary protocols, but a sea change in the way testing is done. Christakis mentions the use of genetically modified animals whose immune reactions are engineered to resemble that of humans. But the real advance, I think, is yet to be discovered: some form of rapid testing on cells that is proved to have similar outcomes to lengthy months- and years-long testing protocols.
It may be unachievable. But imagine if we could have started administering a vaccine for COVID-19 in late February or early March.