December 9, 2020

(Photo by WANG ZHAO / AFP) (Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images)

On the morning of April 19, 1775, hundreds of British troops set faced off against 70 colonial militia men on the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts.  While it is uncertain who fired the first shot, it was fired, and the brief skirmish left eight Americans dead and at least an equal number injured.  One British soldier was wounded.  The British marched on to nearby Concord and encountered another armed group at the town’s North Bridge.  This time the gunfire was purposeful, leaving two colonists and three British dead.  The British retreated to Boston, skirmishing with colonial militiamen along the way and suffering numerous casualties.  The Revolutionary War had begun.  The incident at the North Bridge was memorialized by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1837 poem “Concord Hymn.”  It is here we find the phrase, “And fired the shot heard round the world.”

I found it fitting that Britain is the setting for the latest shot, called by the media “a shot watched round the world.”  The first person to get vaccinated against covid-19 was 90-year-old Margaret Keenan.  Fittingly, the second was 89-year-old William Shakespeare.  Britain’s vaccination plan is like that proposed in the U.S., giving priority to those most vulnerable to the virus (i.e., the aged, the US adds healthcare workers).   Britain’s shot will then be administered by age groups as the vaccine becomes available, starting with the oldest.  When the plan was presented, one reporter noted that Queen Elizabeth II was 94 and Prince Phillip was 99.  Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was said to be nonplussed answering, “like any family, they would have felt the pressures and all the worries that surround this pandemic as well.”

As I read about the British vaccination plan, I was intrigued by the wording of the story.  “The U.K. is the first Western country to deliver a broadly tested and independently reviewed vaccine to the general public.”  That made me check online to see if there had been earlier vaccinations, and indeed NPR said there were.  In early November, China’s two biggest vaccine companies had already begun inoculating hundreds of thousands of mostly state workers in a bid to get a head start.  Outside scientists warned of possible bad outcomes and a sense of invincibility that is not warranted and could help spread the virus.  As it is now five weeks later, I can only assume that did not happen.

Thoughts:  The NPR article reported that while Westerners were skeptical, the unorthodox approach of giving its workers preferential access to the experimental vaccine was a sign of China’s strength.  First in controlling a coronavirus epidemic, then in its ability to potentially protect its workers.  My search found the report on China’s vaccinations dated November 12.  If it was reported on other Media, I must have missed it.  The two approaches on when to give and to whom to give the vaccine represent opposite views of what is safe and who is essential.  Most choices we make are in part arbitrary and highlight our priorities.  Our course of action often only makes sense when the priorities are known.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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