A Pandemic Update: The Variant and the Vaccine Rollout

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As 2020 drew to a close, a concerning development in the pandemic came out of Britain — a new variant of the coronavirus had been discovered that is significantly more transmissible.

The new variant is spreading rapidly across Britain and has been found in other countries, including the United States.

Its emergence has added a new level of urgency to the rollout of vaccines. Yet the administration of inoculations in the U.S. has been slow. The country missed its 2020 target of 20 million vaccinations.

Today, an exploration of two key issues in the fight against the pandemic.

On today’s episode

Carl Zimmer, a science writer and author of the “Matter” column for The New York Times.

Abby Goodnough, a national health care correspondent for The Times.

Background reading

The new variant of the coronavirus, discovered in December, appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants. Here is what we know about it.

The first case of the variant in the U.S. was found in Colorado in December. Pfizer has said that its vaccine works against the key mutation.

The distribution of vaccine in the U.S. is taking longer than expected — holiday staffing and saving doses for nursing homes are contributing to delays.

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Carl Zimmer and Abby Goodnough contributed reporting.

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