Dr Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Covid Vaccines — How We Got Here

Robin Schoenthaler, MD
6 min readOct 26, 2022

History and Luck and Money

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

Not a lot has changed in CovidWorld since the last time I wrote. Our hospitalization numbers continue to go down in the US although not as nicely as a couple of weeks ago (and up in the Northeast). Wastewater Covid is higher in some areas but not all. Cases are up in Western Europe which we often follow.

Our hospitals continue to be overrun with other illnesses, much of which is for pent-up put-off medical issues. People in the hospital now are very very sick. As one kidney doctor said, “There is no kidney test result that shocks me any more.”

Not a ton has changed with variants. Some variants look scarier, yes — maybe more infectious, maybe less susceptible to our current meds — but we just don’t know yet and we will have to see how things pan out.

Today, since there isn’t a lot new, I thought I’d review some history.

I like history. When we first started encountering HIV in the early 80s it was so bewildering and so scary. I was a wee med student and the only thing that gave me any perspective was learning about the history of past plagues — how we dealt, what we learned.

So let’s talk about the history of our Covid vaccine and how it has changed our lives. Some of this is inspired by an amazing talk by Dr Paul Offit (famous Penn virologist) at Bryn Mawr. It’s on YouTube and I highly recommend it, both for his historical perspective and for the amazing drama that takes place at the end.

Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions of our times, and the Covid vaccine may be the greatest of the greatest.

Our Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) made its first documented appearance in late October 2019 in China. Within a few months the original virus’ genetic material had been sequenced (a process, incidentally which took many years for HIV).

In no time this virus spread around the world and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

There is no understating how hard this time was.

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Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom. www.DrRobin.org, @robinshome, robinshome2@gmail.com