A Pandemic Update: The Variant and the Vaccine Rollout


As 2020 drew to a close, a concerning development in the pandemic came out of Britain — a new variant of the coronavirus had been discovered that is significantly more transmissible. It has since been discovered in a number of countries, including the United States.

The emergence of the new variant has added a new level of urgency to the rollout of vaccines in the U.S., a process that has been slow so far.

Today, an exploration of two key issues in the fight against the pandemic.

Guests: Carl Zimmer, a science writer and author of the “Matter” column for The New York Times; Abby Goodnough, a national health care correspondent for The Times. 

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Background reading: 

  • The new variant of the coronavirus, discovered in December, appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants. Here is what we know about it.
  • The first case of the variant in the U.S. was found in Colorado in December. Pfizer has said that its vaccine works against the key mutation.
  • The distribution of the vaccine in the U.S. is taking longer than expected — holiday staffing and saving doses for nursing homes are contributing to delays. 

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily 

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