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New Jersey and the Need to Fight the Pandemic

New Jersey has the highest death rate from covid-19 in the United States, with 301 deaths per 100,000 citizens as of 25 August, 2021. In 2020 it was the leading cause of death in Black, Hispanic, Asian, and foreign-born residents, as well as those dying in hospitals, and those dying in April, May, or December. It was the second leading cause of death overall. As of 23 August 2021, 60.7% of New Jersey’s population was fully immunized. To achieve herd immunity, at least 70% is needed, and ideally, 100% would stop transmission entirely. Another good way to stop transmission is by testing and quarantining individuals positive for the virus. The CDC completely eradicated smallpox from the world in the 1970’s, using vaccination and quarantine. 

Some people hesitate to obtain covid-19 vaccination, fearing the FDA’s approval for emergency use. The good news is that on 23 August, 2021, the FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, now known as Comirnaty. Soon the other two vaccines should have full approval as well. Moderna vaccine works the same way the Pfizer vaccine does, with the use of messenger RNA to instruct cells to make a certain protein found on covid-virus particles. This alerts the immune system to attack the virus. Far from being a hastily-put-together type of technology, mRNA for possible use against rabies, influenza, Zika, or cytomegalovirus has been studied for decades. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a much older kind of technology, discovered by Edward Jenner in the 18th century. He discovered that milk maids did not get smallpox, because they contracted the less harmful virus known as cowpox. The immune system, having learned to fight cowpox, could fight smallpox as well. (The word “vaccine” is derived from the Latin “vacca” for cow). 

With testing, the idea of quarantine need not strike fear into anyone’s heart. Far from requiring another year of being a shut-in, a positive test means only 10 days at home, safe and sound. 

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