International House of Dinosaurs, Yari Gras
International House of Dinosaurs in New Orleans decorated for Yardi Gras. Photo credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Welcome to WhoWhatWhy’s weekly COVID-19 roundup. There’s a lot of virus coverage out there, so this feature will give you a dose of the latest news.

If you are anxiously waiting for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to become available to you, know that manufacturers continue to work out how to deliver in a timely manner. The good news is that the US will be able to get enough doses to — hypothetically — vaccinate most of the population before August. However, the process of making the vaccines is a lengthy one. Pfizer’s vaccine, for example, has components which must be manufactured at three different plants throughout the country.

Pandemic, Privatized

Maybe the solution to the distribution question is to involve companies that have mastered their own kinds of distribution, whether it’s professional sports, software, or… everything else. Several companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, and even the NFL could be a resource to get vaccines out. These companies, along with several others, have offered their support to the federal government — no results as of yet. 

Never fear: at least one corporate behemoth has gotten into the vaccination game. Walmart has started administering doses at some locations (joining CVS, Walgreens, and Publix). Take a look at the Walmart interactive map here to see if there is a vaccine-carrying storefront near you. (Perhaps if Amazon really wanted to help fight the pandemic it could provide COVID-safe conditions for its workers.)

It’s Not a Competition… Right?

Outside of the United States, several countries have approved — and ordered — Russia’s three-dose vaccine for use, including South Korea, India, and Mexico. Israel, meanwhile, has done well with vaccine distribution, having already vaccinated 50 percent of its target population. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine. Photo credit: Governor Jim Justice / Flickr

No One Can Say We Weren’t Warned

While COVID-19 and its effects have become such a huge problem globally that most people probably think about it every day, there is also plenty of anxiety left over to talk about the next big pandemic. Most recently, John Oliver discussed the many dangers of zoonotic diseases in the season premiere of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

But the viruses we contract from animals aren’t the only ones to worry about. Bill Gates, who has become an unlikely soothsayer of our time for his 2015 predictions on the threat of a future pandemic, has returned to the public eye to launch more dire predictions at us: namely, that of a virus engineered by terrorists. All the more reason to set up a strong pandemic defense system, nationally and globally. We’d all be happier if we could prevent pandemics before they even get started.

And Now, Some Delightful Mutations

But enough about how happy we’ll be in a pandemic-free world. Although much of daily life is still unavailable, communities are still finding ways to celebrate safely. In New Orleans, a city known for its culture and dedication to festivities, residents have come up with a way to carry on an annual tradition by decorating their houses, rather than parade floats, for what has been dubbed “Yardi Gras.” Elsewhere, people are starting businesses after rediscovering their love of various pastimes, such as the woman who created an artistic puzzle shop called “Puzz.” Free vaccinations to the first 50 customers!

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Comunidad de Madrid / Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).


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