A look back on COVID -19 and approved vaccines

Dawn Rye | Writer

In early January of 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States. Health officials at that time still didn’t have enough information about the virus. 

COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness in humans caused by a Coronavirus, capable of producing severe symptoms and, in some cases, death, especially in older people and those with underlying health conditions. 

In February, the CDC declared the first death in the United States.  By March, COVID numbers skyrocketed to 118,000 cases and 4,291 deaths before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. A week later, the FDA authorized Hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients. Despite a lack of evidence, this off-label use for malaria becomes controversial as Trump declares it a miracle cure for COVID-19. 

In early spring, the CDC urged Americans to wear masks in public. Americans took to their sewing machines and provided PPE (personal protective equipment) to endanger health care workers. 

By October 2020, the FDA approved COVID-19 antiviral drug Veklury (Remdesivir) to treat hospitalized patients. A month later, North Dakota had the highest cases per capita globally, followed by South Dakota. During this time, the FDA approved the experimental drug Bamlanivimab, a treatment for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children over age 12 who are at high risk. 

In December, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine for emergency use in people ages 16 and older. Clinical trials show the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95 percent, far exceeding expectations. A week later, the FDA authorized Moderna’s two-dose vaccine for people 18 and older, with an efficacy comparable to the Pfizer vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine received FDA approval for emergency use in 2021 showing 66 percent effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. It appeared to eliminate the risk of hospitalization and death.

By the beginning of February, data gathered by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker showed more Americans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine than have contracted the virus.

In the year since the CDC announced the first U.S. death from COVID-19, the South Dakota Department of Health showed big numbers in cases for COVID 19 in 2021 for Turner County, with 1,529 (+/-10), 64 currently active cases and 62 deaths. Reports on vaccinations show that 494,061 South Dakota residents at the age of five and older have been vaccinated. 

If you still need a COVID vaccine, the Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Viborg, Viborg Clinic, Centerville Clinic, and Parker Clinic offers Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson. 

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches and headaches, to name a few. If someone feels they have COVID, the Parker Pharmacy offers home COVID test kits while supplies last.

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