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Still Chugging Along

Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.

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What Could Go Right? No fourth wave in sight

With cases continuing to fall for the fourth week in a row, it looks like the US could avoid a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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What could go right? The US could avoid a fourth wave of the pandemic. With cases continuing to fall for the fourth week in a row, it looks like that is exactly what’s happening. It’s also the exact opposite of what some doom-mongering experts predicted would happen in late March.

The relief that accompanies a catastrophe averted is lightly felt and fleeting, if we feel it at all. Most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re in a future that is better than it could have been. That’s one of the reasons we love this project from Resolve to Save Lives, Epidemics That Didn’t Happen, a multi-case study of successful public health responses that prevented epidemics, including the ones to COVID-19 in Senegal, Mongolia, and Vietnam. (A hat tip to the amazing newsletter Future Crunch, by the way, where we first saw this project.)

Something you’ll notice reading through the cases is that it was enough for countries to effectively implement just two or three mitigation strategies out of many in order to avoid a crisis. Competent leadership, quick response times, and experience, for instance, often made up for a lack of resources. Problems with public trust and participation were able to be overcome through creative relationships between government and local communities. These are lessons for us to take in now and remember for next time.

Speaking of public participation, American youth—or at least the ones in Buffalo, New York—agree: the best way to get them to get vaccinated is to offer them a beer. Want a vaccine but have no ride? Uber and Lyft will take you for free. And over in Romania, you can now get vaccinated outside of Dracula’s castle, where your jab comes with a certificate illustrated by a fanged medical worker wielding a syringe. If you’ve seen other clever efforts to get folks vaccinated, send them to us by hitting reply to this email. We’re collecting them!

Speaking of local, buried in this comforting article about whether we can finally relax if we’re vaccinated (yes, we can!) is the point that when it comes to your daily life, it’s better to look at your local area’s vaccination rate rather than obsess over whether the US will reach herd immunity as a whole. Once that local rate reaches 50–60%, you’re in a very good spot. Most states are tracking rates per county; here are the dashboards for IowaNew Jersey, and New Mexico, for example. If you want to look up yours, googling your state and “local vaccination rates” works like a charm. For our non-American readers, Our World in Data tracks vaccinations country by country.

Other bits of pandemic comfort: New data from Quatar is shoring up the conclusion that the vaccines are effective against variants. Despite what the CDC may say, the outdoor transmission rate is less than 1%. The EU has finally gotten its act together, with a vaccination pace on par with the US’. And, if a picture is worth 1000 words, this graph that plots vaccine development time says it all—you can’t even see the COVID-19 line, it’s so short.

Progress on developing an HIV vaccine and tamping down on dengue fever in the links section below, and on the malaria vaccine in our newsletter from two weeks ago.

Before we go, the job trends we’re rooting for: the four-day workweek + more pay = where do we apply? And, take your pick: 52 things to take action about that aren’t totally overwhelming. (If you need #peoplepower motivation, meet the guy who got a quarter of Hong Kong’s population—over 1.5 million people—to stop eating meat on Mondays.)

From us: “We’ve come to recast ourselves over the past few decades as consumers rather than citizens, as hustlers rather than helpers, as takers rather than givers. That ‘me-first’ mindset was inevitably going to beget a lonelier world.” TPN Member Noreena Hertz on loneliness and how to get reconnected in our latest interview.

And then there’s this inspirational duo: the samurai litter pickers of Japan.

Progress, Please

(Found good news? Tweet at us @progressntwrk or email.)

Good stuff in the news 🦟

TPN Member originals 

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Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.