The Latest: Is this what optimism feels like?

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readNov 20, 2020


Dear Reader,

I’m disturbed by the rising Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in the U.S. The bungling of Covid-19 is a national shame and tragedy. But hang in there! Because for the first time in a very, very, very long time there’s good reason to be optimistic. It’s absolutely worth it to do what you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe right now because there is a light at the end of this seemingly never-ending tunnel of doom.

From a scientific standpoint, I’ve been ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the pandemic all year, because of the vaccine progress. But what I was feeling was anything but optimism — I was often full of rage and deeply depressed. Now, though, I feel really hopeful regarding the Covid-19 vaccines and the eventual quelling of this pandemic. So do many health experts. So does Dr. Fauci.

It will be awhile before things return to “normal” and there’s a lot of work to do. But the vaccines are coming. When recently asked in an interview how people will know it’s OK to get a vaccine, Fauci said: “It’s pretty easy when you have vaccines that are 95 percent effective. Can’t get much better than that.”

And for that I am allowing myself hope and optimism. Try it. It’s good for your mental health, and it will be helpful for getting through a dark winter. Especially if you’re missing family this holiday season. ❤️

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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Here’s what else we are talking about on the Blog

💉 A new era of vaccines appears on the horizon. As biotech reporter Emily Mullin reports for Future Human, the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which are using new genetic technology for the first time, could mark a change in how vaccines are developed during infectious disease outbreaks going forward. Read more here.

🧠 Our brains make it easy to break Covid-19 rules. Why is it that even the most responsible among us, who have strict Covid-19 precautions, can let them slide in social settings? (It certainly happens to me). A lot of it has to do with the way humans are hardwired, writes science reporter Melinda Moyer for Elemental. Read more here.

✈️ What you should know about flying in a pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that people not travel for Thanksgiving. Many may wonder what the risk is of getting Covid-19 on an airplane. Here’s a great look at what all the latest science says, with tips. Mask up.

A few more smart reads

How the U.S. Messed Up Covid-19 So Badly

The Holiday Time Restrictions Are Needed

Inside Labs Responding to Covid-19

I Volunteered to Test the Moderna Vaccine. Here’s What It Was Like (Business Insider)

When Will We Throw Our Masks Away? I Asked Dr. Fauci (New York Times)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that