The Week (US)

Editor’s letter

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Liberty. It’s busting out all over. Isn’t it glorious? Vaccinated people are pouring into the streets and parks, their unmasked faces radiating joy and relief. Friends are hugging. Kids are racing into grandparen­ts’ eager arms. Restaurant­s and bars are booming again. Baseball and basketball stadiums are putting real fans in the seats instead of cardboard cutouts. Concerts and theater are coming back. Some of us are even looking forward to returning to our offices and escaping the sterile, one-dimensiona­l jail cell of screens and videoconfe­rences. Our rebirth is hard-won, purchased by a year of mask wearing, distancing, and limited socializin­g, which curtailed the virus’ spread while we waited for vaccines. Those precaution­s, epidemiolo­gists say, prevented tens of millions of additional Covid cases in the U.S. and more than 1 million additional deaths. To see what a no-mask, no-restrictio­n America could have been, take a look at Brazil and India, where Covid races through the population like wildfire, lighting innumerabl­e funeral pyres and filling acres of mass graves.

Our wait for vaccines has been rewarded with a near-miracle. Real-world data shows that, so far, the vaccines are 99.9 percent effective in preventing hospitaliz­ations and deaths. New Covid cases and deaths have dropped to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic. But because this is America, lifesaving vaccines desperatel­y sought around the world have been ensnared in issues of class, race, and political tribe: Many blue states have double the vaccinatio­n rate of several red states in the South, where roughly 2 in 3 people remain unvaccinat­ed and the virus is still finding unprotecte­d new hosts. (See Talking Points.) But for now, let us be grateful to science and to one another for the heroic sacrifices we’ve made for the common good. This has been nothing less than a war, with terrible casualties. We have not yet beaten Covid, but we are winning. William Falk L’Chaim. Salud. To life. Editor-in-chief

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