Few decisions are harder than those which involve increasing your chances of changing the odds that an unlikely bad event might happen. The decision is complicated here by the lack of data, because the virus is new and surprising.
An asteroid variant could emerge wherever the case rate remains high, meaning either in the large part of the world that won’t get the vaccine for quite a while longer, or in a highly-vaccinated country that has lowered hospitalizations and deaths, but is still supporting a high rate of new infections.
If Moderna’s preliminary results are correct, their vaccine will still suppress it, but if it becomes widespread around the world, it becomes a new jumping-off point for further mutations, and one of those might complete the jailbreak.
Almost exactly a year after America's first confirmed case of the "novel Coronavirus" was detected in Snohomish County, two cases of the extra-contagious variant from the UK, dubbed B.1.1.7 (poets, these virologists) have been found in that self-same county, a first for the State of Washington, though hardly for the nation. You Rock, Snohomish County!
West Virginia currently leads the nation in vaccination rate (7.1% of population with first dose, compared to a national average of 3.4% and Washington's rate of 3.0%), and they're doing it by a conscious policy choice.
I hope we got lucky, and that yesterday’s vile threat to our democracy doesn’t turn out to also be a literal killer of citizens and their elected representatives: Trump’s mob spreading Trump’s plague. A pox on his house.
Taken together, the new variant means that accelerating our herky-jerky vaccine rollout becomes even more important, our use of non-pharmaceutical protections needs to increase for at least the first half of 2021, and we need, together, to accept vaccination as soon as it is offered, and reach out to everyone who is hesitating to be vaccinated and persuade them to join us in the jab queue.