COVID vaccines show the promise and limits of tech fixes


COVID-19 vaccines are about as effective as a single technological solution to a major threat can be — and our struggles to adopt and distribute the shots demonstrate their limits.

Why it matters: The pandemic is just one of many global challenges we’ll face in the years ahead, but technofixes alone can’t save us without a supportive social and political structure.

The big picture: Amid rising concern about the Delta variant’s rapid spread and greatly increased infectiousness, it’s worth remembering just how far we’ve come since the start of 2021.

  • In early January, the U.S. was averaging around 250,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, and more than 3,000 people a day were dying.
  • Our only ability to slow the spread involved socially and economically cumbersome strategies like shutdowns, social distancing and ubiquitous masking — little different from how we would have fought a pandemic a century ago.

Fast forward to August. Even with the Delta surge, cases…

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