Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The very first Thanksgiving followed a period of truly terrible trials for the Mayflower survivors. A large percentage of the original passengers had died of hunger and disease, and their lives were still difficult. Artist conceptions of the first Thanksgiving invariably show healthy looking Europeans and Native Americans, but that is far from the truth. The local Native American population had been decimated before the Mayflower landed by diseases to which they had no immunity, brought by previous European explorers. Entire villages had been wiped out. It is possible they died of smallpox but it is just as likely they died of measles. COVID-19 has allowed us to see for the first time in generations, the impact of a new disease on a previously unexposed population. It is likely that most of the attendees of that first Thanksgiving were malnourished. Certainly all of them, both Europeans and Native Americans, had recently buried loved ones lost to disease. Nevertheless, their response was a spirit of thankfulness. We could learn a lot from that. The past months, although difficult, have not compared to the trials that even recent generations have weathered. Despite the bleak news of an accelerating infection rate and the challenges we face in the next few months, we have much to be thankful for.
For me at least, the biggest struggle is a mental one, coping with the isolation of “social distancing.” The need for a level of isolation will not pass until either nearly everyone has developed an immunity, either by being infected and recovering, or by being vaccinated. Given the choice between surviving a COVID-19 infection or vaccination against it, I would choose vaccination. That is assuming the vaccination is effective and reasonably safe. For that reason, my attention is focused on the news about the COVID vaccination trials.
Dr. Carter has another post on her website about the outlook for a COVID-19 vaccine. I think it will give you another reason to be thankful tomorrow. Here’s the link: