What science won and lost in the race to create COVID vaccines

Southern California has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. LA, San Diego, and Riverside counties have run out of ICU space at their hospitals. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still ballooning. On Wednesday, LA County shattered its daily case record with around 22,000 new cases. Deaths have topped 100 the last two days in a row.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is quarantining at his home after his daughter tested positive for the virus. He said from home on Thursday night, “The United States is losing more than one person to COVID-19 every minute. And we’re losing more souls than died on 9/11 every single day. California recorded a one day record of 379 deaths. And yesterday was the single worst day of cases and deaths ever recorded in Los Angeles — more than one person dying every 15 minutes from COVID-19.”

LA County’s Public Health Department says even with vaccines rolling out, things are going to get worse before they get better.

There is more hope on the way though, in the form of another vaccine. The FDA is expected to approve Moderna’s vaccine as soon as today. The U.S. plans to send out around 6 million doses once the approval goes through.

Given the devastation the disease has brought, it’s hard to appreciate just how quickly the scientific community was able to develop multiple vaccine candidates for a coronavirus, something that had never been done before, and in record time for any vaccine.

KCRW talks about this astonishing feat with Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic. His latest story is called “How Science Beat the Virus.”